Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA has announced that the Northern Ireland pilot Protein Crops Scheme will be extended to the end of 2023.
The Minister said: "I am pleased to announce an extension to the pilot Protein Crop Scheme for growing combinable beans, peas and sweet lupins. I would continue to encourage everyone to consider the opportunities and benefits this scheme provides not only to boost farm incomes but also the associated agronomic and environmental benefits."
The aim of the scheme is to create a domestically produced source of protein for animal feed, provide agronomic benefits within arable rotations and provide an alternative source of income for farmers. The pilot scheme was introduced in 2021, initially for two years, with the intention that the approach would then be reviewed and possibly refined for subsequent years to maximise the economic and environmental benefits.
The Minister continued: "An interim review of the scheme performance has been completed and this has demonstrated overall positive results. The number of businesses claiming support for growing protein crops has increased from 32 in 2020 to 113 in 2022 with a total of 641 ha of protein crops grown in 2021. A number of environmental benefits have also been recorded, including an increase in crop diversity and a reduction in fertiliser usage on participating farms.
"An economic and environmental evaluation of the pilot scheme will now be carried out."