The Sustainable Farming Incentive

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is a 3 year agreement which, when it is launched in 2022, will pay farmers to produce public goods such as water quality, biodiversity, animal health & welfare and climate change mitigation, alongside food production. Although there will be no capital payments available during first launch, they will be introduced later in the roll out.

The scheme is based around 3 Standards which can be implemented on farm to:

~ improve soil health & fertility
~ aid reaching the Net Zero target
~ asses the condition of moorlands & plan their restoration

The scheme will be able to be used on land parcels under current CS agreements as long as it avoids double payment for the same action. It has been deemed to harbor more flexibility following each 12 month period.

The 3 Standards and their payments available are:

Arable & Horticultural Soils
Introductory Level – £22/ha per year
Intermediate Level – £40/ha per year

For both levels farmers will need to test for soil organic matter (SOM), develop a soil plan and ensure winter cover is in place for at least 70% of the land in the standard. Both levels will also require for organic matter to be applied each year to 1/3 of the area entered into the standard. At the intermediate level a sown green cover crop must be in place for winter months on 20% of the area in the standard.

Grassland Soils
Introductory Level – £28/ha per year
Intermediate Level – £58/ha per year

For both levels, SOM testing is to be carried out alongside the preparation of a soil management plan, as well as 95% green cover of the land in the standard over the winter. The intermediate level requires that herbal lays are established and maintained on 15% of the area in the standard.

Moorland & Rough Grazing
Introductory Level – £148/agreement and £6.45/hectare
Intermediate Level – Will be introduced in future years

Currently there is no specification for the Intermediate Level but for the Introductory Level, farmers will need to determine the health and general condition of their moorland by assessing peat depth and associated vegetation.

DEFRA are currently putting together detailed guidance that will cover the application process and dates which they are looking to release early next year.

Please contact our Berwick office on 01289 304432 should you wish to discuss any of the information above.

Written by Ali McTavish based in our Berwick Office. Information & payment rates sourced from