New Year: New Incentives
For the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI)
26th January ’23 saw DEFRA release their latest set of developments explaining and clarifying their plan for payments through the agricultural transition period and beyond. The announcement makes payments accessible to a wide range of farm businesses. The scheme is devised so farmers are rewarded for good environmental practice and no business is favoured or penalised for previously choosing to engage, or not, in good practice.
Six new standards have been announced as part of Defra’s Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) programme. They are hedgerow management, integrated pest management, nutrient management, arable and horticultural land, improved grassland and low input grassland.
When assessing the new payments, businesses should consider their current practice and medium-term goals and engage with the payments that align with current business direction.
The three examples below should help you understand some payments on offer within the Sustainable Farming Incentive. Some of which are currently required for cross compliance (to become the ‘regulatory baseline’ and farm assurance purposes).
Example Farm A:
A conventional arable farm with focus on food production and seeing no requirement to change the way it farms to remain profitable. 70% of the farm rotation is cereals and straw is chopped.
SFI Funding Opportunities
• £22/ha-Testing soils, applying organic matter and maintaining winter ground cover.
• £45/ha- Committing to use no insecticide on this area of land each year, the land can be rotated.
• £589 annually- Have a FACTS qualified adviser tailor a report to improve nitrogen usage.
Example Farm B:
A farm taking active steps to reduce their farm inputs, improve resilience against extreme weather events and aiming to maintain yields.
- Each of the opportunities listed in example A.
- £989 annually- Have a BASIS qualified adviser complete and integrated pest management plan using in field flower strips to encourage beneficial insects and reduce chemical inputs.
- £673/ha- Cover the area given over to in field flower strips.
- £55/ha- Establish companion crops, useful to combat flea beatle in Oilseed Rape or provide nitrogen through a clover understory.
- £50+/ha- Establish a crop using no till/ direct drill techniques.
Example Farm C:
An all-grassland farm consisting of permanent pasture and some lowland herbal leys.
- £58/ha- Soil testing and maintaining herbal leys on 15% of land.
- £102/ha- Establish and maintain legumes in an existing grass sward.
- £989 annually- Receive assessment and advice on integrated pest (weed) management.
- £589 annually- Have a FACTS qualified adviser tailor a report to improve nitrogen usage.
- *£200+/ha- Available for management of floodplain meadows, available in 2024
Anyone starting an agreement will qualify for the £1,000 SFI management payment to reflect the costs in getting the agreement set up.
Alongside those options mentioned above there is opportunity to engage additionally, with options currently available through countryside stewardship. DEFRA repeatedly state their ambition to make the schemes easy to understand and apply for. There are still some areas of uncertainty worth highlighting.
- How will SFI and Countryside Stewardship interact? Where individual payments are listed under both schemes with two applications need to be made?
- Despite wanting to encourage private funding for environmental services, will detailing carbon in the literature restrict land owners from accessing private carbon payments?
- We are awaiting some of the fine detail and definitions to the standards announced on 26th January ’23.
If this overview has prompted any questions or you would like to begin a plan of private and public funding opportunities for your business please do not hesitate to call or email.
Anglia Rural Consultants