EU Science Hub

Guidance and tool to support farmers in making informed decisions on Ecological Focus Areas

Agricultural landscape with Ecological Focus Areas in the Marche Region of Italy.
©EU, photo by Maria Luisa Paracchini
Jan 25 2016

A prototype software tool is available to help farmers and farm advisers in the selection of Ecological Focus Area (EFA) elements. The aim is to deliver high environmental benefits and at the same time be realistic in terms of farm management.

The software is freely available to download at: https://sitem.herts.ac.uk/aeru/efa/

The software has been developed in a study carried out by the University of Hertfordshire and coordinated by the JRC. The study report can be downloaded here. It covers the four main project tasks: an extensive literature review; impact assessment of EFA elements; software development; and testing of the software application.

Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) is one of suite of measures that are being introduced as part of 'greening' of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). As part of their Basic Payment Scheme application under the CAP, farmers need to declare 5% of their arable land as an EFA. The exact choice of EFA elements (such as fallow land, hedges, trees, etc.) and their implementation rules vary between European countries. It is hoped that the introduction of EFAs on farms will aid in delivering tangible environmental improvements, but this is to some extent dependent on the EFA elements that a farmer selects, and their appropriateness to the local environment.