The Sustainable Farming Incentive: a more flexible approach to Environmental Standards for Farmers

DEFRA have announced today (2nd December 2021) that we can expect a more flexible approach to Environmental Land Management than previously seen under the Countryside Stewardship scheme. Under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) starting next year, farmers will be able to add land parcels and change the levels of ambition each year, allowing an incremental approach .

Agreements will be for 3 years and in 2022 tenants with only 2 years remaining on their tenancy term will be allowed to enter the scheme.

Farmers with existing Countryside Stewardship (CS) Agreements will be able to enter land parcels with CS options , so long as SFI is not funding the same actions and the options are compatible . SFI will also be less prescriptive , letting farmers work out the best way to deliver the ambitions and a more supportive approach will be offered with no penalties for agreement breaches .

For the Arable and Horticultural Soil Standards the proposed payment rates are;

  • Introductory £22 / ha
  • Intermediate £40/ ha

And for the Grassland Soil Standards

  • Introductory £ 28 /ha
  • Intermediate £ 58 /ha

Advanced levels of ambition will be introduced from 2023 along with additional standards for nutrient management, integrated pest management and hedgerows . Further information can be found here

Author: Marissa Bird