Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) – Applications opening soon….

Defra recently published the 156-page Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) handbook with applications opening sometime in August 2023. The incentive will have a managed rollout.

Once the scheme is fully up and running in autumn 2023, SFI will have rolling applications.

SFI aims to provide an income while enhancing productivity and supporting sustainable food production. Many actions aim to reward farmers and land managers for actions they are already doing possibly for other farm assurance schemes. Participants in the pilot SFI have influenced changes to the 2023 offer. Farmers wanted more flexibility with Defra now offering a ‘pick and mix’ approach to choosing standalone actions.

Defra have released 23 actions under 9 headings with additional payments for common land and a management payment.

  • Actions for soils
  • Actions for integrated pest management
  • Actions for nutrient management
  • Actions for hedgerows
  • Actions for farmland wildlife on arable and horticultural land
  • Actions for farmland wildlife on improved grassland
  • Actions for buffer strips
  • Actions for low input grassland
  • Actions for moorland

Within each group there are actions to choose from to suit each land parcel. More actions will be added over the coming year,  with a full suite available by the end of 2024. Defra have also incorporated an additional element of rotational options allowing areas to vary each year, offering greater flexibility to arable farms. Grassland farms will benefit from having less restrictive management prescriptions. Under Countryside Stewardship (CS), certain options prohibit supplementary feeding or leaving swards to rest for a five-week period. These options are now available in SFI with removal of these restrictions.

SFI agreemeets last for 3 years from its start date with the option to upgrade annually to add more actions and more land parcels. Land parcels cannot be removed until the agreement period ends. The total annual payment is paid in quarterly instalments. The first instalment will typically be made in the fourth month after the agreement starts. Land has to be eligible for SFI and checks for Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Historical features will need to be followed.

SFI is never going to replace BPS. However, choosing appropriate actions for each land parcel could aid gross margins. Whether you are a tenant farmer or a landowner, the SFI scheme welcomes all involved and aims to work with you to deliver the desired outcomes. With greater flexibility and less management prescriptions than traditional CS, SFI may be more attractive than once thought.

To discuss further please contact Chris Muir 01904 489731



  • Property Search


Latest News

Stephensons Rural LLP are associated with: