The Sustainable Farming Incentive Pilot Scheme Is Now Open

The Sustainable Farming Incentive Scheme

Tier 1 of the Pilot Scheme for the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is now open for an initial group of several hundred farmers to express their interest. All online forms must be submitted by the 11th April 2021. 

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is one of three schemes, alongside the Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes, both of which will begin piloting next year. These schemes will pay for sustainable farming practices, improved animal health and welfare, improved environmental outcomes, and reduced carbon emissions. The Sustainable Farming Incentive in particular will pay farmers for actions they take to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way.

In March 2022, DEFRA will then start to roll out the scheme to a broader range of recipients of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

More information on the Sustainable Farming Incentive Payments

The Sustainable Farming Incentive provides payments according to land use. These are then split into different levels, with increasing funding in accordance with the amount of qualifying work done on the land, with requirements to qualify for each level. Some of the payments are also split into land uses, for example, ‘land management’ and ‘soil management’.   

Land useIntroductory Level PaymentIntermediate Level PaymentAdvanced Level
Arable (soils)£30/ha£47/ha£59/ha
Arable (total)£58/ha£101/ha£133/ha
Improved grassland£27/ha£62/ha£97/ha
Improved Grassland (soils)£6/ha£6/ha£8/ha
Improved Grassland Total£33/ha£68/ha£105/ha
Unimproved Grassland£22/ha£89/ha£110/ha
Woodland Management£49/ha(not available)(not available)
Waterbody Buffering£16/100m£29/100m£34/100m

Who is eligible for the pilot?

For the first phase of piloting, a farmer is only eligible if they:

  • Are a recipient of the Basic Payment Scheme, registered on the Rural payments Agency system
  • Enter land parcels (for example fields) into the pilot that do not have an existing agri-environment agreement on them
  • Have management control of the land for the duration of the pilot (scheduled to run until late 2024). They must either own the land with management control or have a tenancy of enough length to implement their pilot agreement (including landlord’s permission if required).
  • Enter land parcels that are in England
  • Enter land parcels that are not registered common land or shared grazing 

Public bodies (such as local authorities or government departments) are not eligible for the first phase of piloting the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme.

How to apply to take part

The Sustainable Farming Incentive first phase window is now currently open until the 11th April 2021. To express an interest DEFRA are asking farmers to complete a short, simple online form.

Once closed, they will then invite farmers from a mix of farms and locations to make a pilot application (if oversubscribed they will select farmers at random) with first agreements going live in October 2021.

For more information on how our environmental team can help you during the transition, or if you have more questions on any of the three schemes (Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery, or Landscape Recovery), please contact:

Carlisle Office: 01228 548385 – Christopher Gray, Chris Slinger and Emma Gray

Berwick: 01289 304432 – Patrick Playfair, Ali McTavish and Andrew Hamilton

Keswick: 017687 72988 – Matthew Bell and Charlotte Clayton

Galashiels: 01896 751300 – Andrew Hamilton and Jack Frater

Kendal: 01539 769790 – Chris Slinger and Matthew Bell

Windermere: 015394 48811 – Matthew Bell