Sustainable Farming Incentive 2022

What you need to know

In 2022, Defra will be launching the first 4 ‘Standards’ of what will be a menu of 16 or more to be rolled out over the next 3 years.  For most situations, these payments can be accessed in 2022 and will make an important stepping stone towards a transition to the new ELMS Schemes, even if you are already in another Countryside Stewardship scheme such as Mid Tier. 

What’s available in 2022?

The standards available in 2022 focus on soil health, and animal health and welfare.  Applicants can choose whether to do each of the standards at introductory or intermediate ‘ambition levels’ now, in future years an advanced level will be added.  

  • arable and horticultural soils
  • improved grassland soils
  • annual health and welfare review
  • moorland and rough grazing (introductory level only)

Who is eligible?

Applications will be open to all BPS claimants and will cover most farmland in England.  As SFI operates as the parcel level, any field can be entered including fields already in Mid Tier agreements, however there will be requirements that options prescriptions are not already paid for under Mid Tier to avoid double funding.  

How to apply?

Applications will be made online by selecting the parcel, choosing the option and ambition level.  Agreements will be issued that cover 3 years, although there will be flexibility every 12 months to amend the ambition level.  Contact your ELM Associates adviser for a review of how SFI can be accessed for your farm, or email

Requirements and payment rates

Arable and Horticultural Soils Standards

Introductory level – £22 per hectare

  • test soil organic matter
  • undertake a soil assessment and produce a soil management plan
  • 70% winter cover to protect soils: at least 70% of land in the standard must have green cover over the winter months (Dec-Feb), which can include any kind of green cover, including autumn sown crops and weedy stubbles
  • addition of organic matter: add organic matter to 1/3 of the land in the standard each year (this can include any kind of organic matter, including sown green cover crops)

Intermediate level – £40 per hectare

  • As above
  • At least 20% of the winter cover must be multi-species green cover from December to February e.g. oats with brassicas/radish or other multi-species cover crop

Improved grassland soils standard

Introductory level – £28 per hectare

  • test soil organic matter
  • undertake a soil assessment and produce a soil management plan
  • 95% green cover to protect soil (no more than 5% bare ground over winter)

Intermediate level – £58 per hectare

  • As above
  • Establish or maintain herbal leys to improve soil health on at least 15% of land in the standard

Annual Health and Welfare Review 

Eligible to BPS claimants who keep more than 50 pigs, 20 sheep or 10 cattle.

Payment rates depending on livestock 

  • pigs – £684
  • sheep – £436
  • beef cattle – £522
  • dairy cattle – £372

Monitoring and Recommendations 

  • Annual visit by a vet or vet-led team to review and provide advice on  animal health and welfare, biosecurity, diagnostic testing and medicine usage. 
  • Priorities to support data collecting and management of the national herd and flock, with a focus on BVD, anthelmintic resistance in sheep and other industry-agreed health priorities. 

Moorland and Rough Grazing Standard – Introductory level only (details TBC)

Indicative payments: £148 fixed per agreement per year, plus additional variable payment rate of £6.45 per hectare

  • verify and record soil types, including peatland, and associated vegetation
  • evaluate the public goods potential and condition of the moorland
  • identify opportunities to maintain or enhance public goods

What other standards are coming up from 2023 to 2025?

At present, proposed standards are indicative only and may depend on feedback from the SFI Pilot currently underway. 


  • nutrient management
  • integrated pest management
  • hedgerows


  • agroforestry
  • low and no input grassland
  • moorland and rough grazing (all levels)
  • water body buffering
  • farmland biodiversity


  • organic management
  • on-farm woodland
  • orchards and specialist horticulture
  • heritage
  • dry stone walls
Sustainable Farming Incentive 2022
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