April 25, 2024


The term Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) has been around for a couple of years now. The SFI has replaced the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) which ended at the end of December 2023 and ‘Delinked payments’, which replace the BPS, will be paid on a reducing basis from2024 until 2027, when they will end!

The SFI and the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) is an information overload in terms of all the different options available. There are 23actions that farmers are eligible for, which include soil health, moorland assessment, nutrient management, and integrated pest management to name a few. As a result, lots of farmers and landowners are being put off by the amount of red tape and time needed to get a handle on what will work best for them.

The new SFI agreements will last for three years and payments will be made every quarter, which will be a regular cash injection to farming businesses. Whilst the SFI management payment will be only £20 per hectare, capped at £1,000 per year (50 hectares) foreach farming business with a Single Business Identifier(SBI), there are lots of extras that can be claimed.

There are then the 23 actions to utilise, some worth a few pounds per hectare and some that are hundreds of pounds per hectare, depending on what you are going to do.

There is no one size fits all but having conversations with many of our farming clients there are options that will fit their specific circumstances and form part of the overall farming business strategy going forwards.

If there are payments available for doing things that will benefit your business, then it makes sense to tap into what funds are available to help cover the costs and help top up your income.

Several farming businesses I have spoken with are going to be planting herbal leys. They are more drought tolerant than rye grass and should ensure better grazing for livestock and hopefully prevent the need for buffer feeding in the driest months, when hopefully this incessant rain will have stopped! The annual payment rate for herbal leys is £382 per ha, so 50 hectares would bring in £19,100.

Flower rich grass margins, blocks, or in-field strips receive a payment of £798 per ha and winter bird food on arable and horticultural land receive a payment of £853 per ha. As you can see, there are some large payments available, hence why some businesses have decided to make the most of what is available and move away from food production. As a result, DEFRA have now announced that farms will only be able to put 25%of their land into six of the SFI actions which take land out of direct food production.

Making use of an experienced land agent or farm consultant that has a handle on what is available should therefore be a very cost-effective way to not only ensure that the business receives the right subsidies but should also be able to help improve cashflow while also focussing on the business’ longer-term goals.

While we will not be able to provide the detailed advice, we can point you in the direction of the land agents or farm consultants who can.


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