Making the most of the National Test Programme

Making the most of the National Test Programme

7th May 2022

Scottish Government has strongly suggested that future farm support payments will be conditional on farmers providing reliable information on their sustainability performance. Before this can be put in place, however, the industry needs to produce the metrics.

 

In the first step towards this, in early May the Scottish Government announced the financial support available for carbon audits and soil health as part of the £51 million National Test Programme which will provide the benchmarking.

 

This marks the first phase of Track 1 of the NTP: Preparing for Sustainable Farming, which aims to support farmers to prepare their businesses to meet the conditions of the future agricultural policy and farm support.

 

Any farmer who is currently claiming Region 1 land on their SAF can apply for this financial support, with some caveats.

The carbon audit must be done before you can claim for the Soil Analysis and Development Payment. £500 is available towards the cost of this for those who have not undertaken a carbon audit in the last three years. It is not available to those already undertaking carbon auditing work, for example as part of a supply contract.

 

Once you have a carbon audit that aligns to PAS 2050 standards, £30/hectare is available for soil sampling and analysis. A prescribed set of tests – including pH, phosphate, potash and carbon levels – must be included in the analysis, and payment is limited to one-fifth of the Region 1 land area claimed. With the first claim you will additionally be paid a standard cost payment to cover personal development.

 

Although an extra job for the list, it could be a timely opportunity to review nutrient management and drive productivity and efficiency on the farm, particularly at a time of escalating input costs.

 

The new Scottish Agriculture Bill will be brought forward in 2023 to replace the Common Agricultural Policy.

 

Claims for the full guidance is available at: https://www.ruralpayments.org/topics/all-schemes/preparing-for-sustainable-farming–psf-/ and is now open for claims.

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