Mike Cluley from Carver Knowles in Worcestershire helps us to understand.

The Greening rules are a compulsory requirement of the Basic Payment Scheme. They contribute to approximately 30% of the value of their total BPS claim value. If a farmer does not comply with the rules they will lose some or all of their “greening” payment.

The Greening rules fall into three categories as follows:

  • Crop Diversification
  • Ecological Focus Areas (EFA’s)
  • Permanent Grassland

Not all farms need to comply with the Greening rules when claiming the BPS. There are a variety of exemptions available and thresholds needing to be met. However,  it is obviously important to know whether or not you need to comply with the rules. This will need to be done well in advance of making a claim to ensure your crop planting and EFA options will meet the rules.

Are the Greening rules applicable to me?

The answer depends on how much arable* land you have. If you have:

  • Less than 10 ha of arable land – you do not need to do anything for greening
  • Between 10 and 15 ha of arable land – Crop Diversification is likely to need to be considered
  • More than 15 ha of arable land – Crop Diversification and EFA is likely to need to be considered

Even if Greening is an issue that needs to be considered, there are a number of Exemptions potentially available.  These will be based principally around the proportion of grassland and fallow on the holding and also if you are Organic.

The Greening rules in more detail (assuming an exemption is not possible)

Crop Diversification

Planning your rotation in advance is imperative in order to ensure the correct crops are in the ground during the Crop Diversification inspection period (1st May – 30th June).

  • If you plan to have between 10 and 30 ha of arable land then you will need to have at least 2 crops with the largest crop being no more than 75% of the total arable area.
  • If you plan to have over 30ha of arable land then you will need to have at least 3 crops with the largest crop being no more than 75% of the total arable area and the largest two crops combined being no more that 95% of the total arable area.

Ecological Focus Areas (EFA’s)

If you have more than 15 ha of arable land then you will need to put in place options equivalent to 5% of your arable area into EFA options. Not all options are equal therefore care needs to be taken when working out what options you intend to use and what EFA area they give you.

The current EFA options and weightings are listed below:


EFA Option EFA Weighting
Watercourse buffer strip 1 linear m = 9m2 of EFA
Hedgerows 1 linear m of 2 sided hedge = 10m2 of EFA
Fallow land 1 ha of fallow
Nitrogen fixing crops 1 ha of nitrogen fixing crops = 0.7 ha of EFA
Catch or Cover crops 1 ha of catch or cover crops = 0.3 ha of EFA


Permanent Pasture

The permanent pasture rule is not based on a farm level. The rule states that if the area of permanent grassland in England falls by over 5% then farmers who have ploughed up permanent pasture may be required to re-instate it.

So in conclusion what do you need to do to prepare?

  1. Work out whether the greening rules may affect you or whether you are eligible for an exemption
  1. Plan your cropping for the cropping year in advance to ensure that the crop diversification rules can be met in the spring
  1. Plan what options you will use to meet your EFA requirement and whether these will also help with your Crop Diversification requirements

The Carver Knowles team can help you plan using our in-house Greening calculator. We can easily assess different combinations of options to help you decide what will work best for your farm and give you the assurance your plans fit within the scheme rules. Please contact us on 01684 583400 for further information and advice. The following website also has information available: BPS 2016

*For the purposes of Greening, arable land means land that is in a rotation and is not permanent grass or a permanent crop. Arable land does include temporary grass (land in grass for less than 5 years) and fallow land.