Farmers are investigating various ways of reducing the cost of purchased animal feeds. 

The energy crisis and the war in Ukraine has increased the prices of grains and proteins to significant levels and farmers producing milk, beef and lamb as well as pigs and poultry have been forced to pay hefty prices for purchased concentrate feeds.

At least one farmer in Fermanagh has grown field beans as a protein crop this year.

William West from St. Angelo, who has been growing cereals for a number of years, planted field beans this year and they were re-cently harvested.

Some farmers growing these type of crops can avail of some support under a new pilot scheme.

The Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland last year introduced a Protein Crops Scheme which is being run on a pilot scheme for a limited number of years.

The scheme has the aim of encouraging the production of combinable beans, peas and sweet lupins in North-ern Ireland for the purpose of creating a domestically-produced source of protein for animal feed, and provide agronomic benefits within arable rotations.

This is expected to create environmental benefits by reducing the need to import animal feed and the associ-ated carbon footprint

The scheme represents an important investment in promoting sustainable, diversified agriculture in North-ern Ireland.

Under the scheme, farmers who apply will receive £330 per hectare in addition to their Basic Payment.

Farmers who applied for the Protein Crop Scheme this year, for example, did so through the annual Single Application in 2022.

Crops grown under the scheme include Spring Peas, Spring Field Beans, Winter Field Beans, Spring Sweet Lupins and Winter Sweet Lupins.