Sustainable Farming Incentive

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is the first of Defra’s three new environmental land management schemes.  

It is being phased in and we recommend that farmers take up SFI in 2022 as a way of getting familiar with the scheme and its processes ahead of further expansion. 

There will be four standards in 2022: 

  • Arable and horticultural soils  
  • Improved grassland standard
  • Moorland and Rough Grazing
  • Annual health and welfare review

The requirements for the arable and improved grassland standards are summarised below: 

The key points include: 

  • The 2022 Standards on offer are the first building blocks of a scheme that will have other standards added in 2023, 2024 and beyond, including biodiversity standards, nutrient and pest management, hedgerows and boundaries, heritage, and agroforestry amongst other themes. Opportunity to add in standards will be provided, and to switch ambition levels.   
  • Defra are targeting SFI uptake on 70% of farms and farmland by 2028 
  • RPA will administer SFI. 
  • SFI is a part farm scheme therefore applicants can choose all or some parcels to be included. 
  • Agreements will last three years, with some flexibility to amend every 12 months  
  • Tenants will not require landowners’ permission 
  • Applications will open in 2022 for at least 10 weeks and first payments will be made by the end of the year. Defra have stated the window will minimise disruption with BPS applications and allow people to make choices alongside other schemes, but no dates have been published. 
  • Payments will be made quarterly beginning three months after the agreement start date. 
  • There will be no capital payments so farmers are encouraged to use Countryside Stewardship and other Defra grants to support capital projects and investments. 
Sustainable Farming Incentive
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