The area monitoring system (AMS) - or eye in the sky, as it is often now referred to by farmers - will be used in 2024 to monitor compliance with the extensively grazed pasture and winter bird food actions in the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).

Correspondence was issued to Farm Advisory System (FAS) advisers this week reminding them of this requirement.

The Department circular highlighted that AMS will be used specifically for checking for any mowing events between the restricted period from 15 March to 1 July 2024.

With regards the winter bird food action the AMS will check for any cultivation events before 31 May 2024.

AMS use

The AMS was used sparingly in 2023 to monitor compliance across the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS), Coupled Support for Protein Aid and the Straw Incorporation Measure.

Its use is being widened in 2024 to ensure that area-based schemes have met their eligibility for 2024.

To recap on what AMS does, the system is defined as the “regular and systematic observation, tracking and assessment of agricultural activities and practices on agricultural areas using Copernicus Sentinel Satellite data”.

Essentially, two satellites orbit Earth capturing images, which allows the Department to determine agricultural activities on 1.3m declared land parcels in the country.

A land parcel flagged by AMS as red indicates an error

“Parcels monitored by AMS will have colour coded results: green, yellow or red. Parcels flagged by AMS as green and yellow indicate a degree of confidence that the land detail in the farmer’s BISS application has been verified by AMS and payments can be made.”

However, a land parcel flagged by AMS as red indicates an error which may result in a notification being issued to the applicant on their BISS online account and a delay in payments.

An error could include an ineligible crop sown to meet the requirements of a particular scheme, an incorrect crop declared on BISS (different to what AMS has identified on the ground) or the presence of an ineligible feature such as a roadway or residence.

Amendments to BISS and ACRES applications

The circular also issued a reminder that amendments can be made to the 2024 BISS application (and other area-based scheme applications including ACRES) up to 31 May 2024 without imposing a penalty.

“If an applicant needs to amend an incorrectly claimed area or add a new parcel/plot to their 2024 application, this amendment must be submitted via the online system by the 31 May 2024 deadline.

"Late amendments (made after 31 May 2024) will be accepted online up to and including 10 June 2024, but these may incur a penalty. Further details on how to make online amendments can be found under Section 15 of the BISS terms and conditions at”