Sustainable Farming Incentive

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will launch in 2022 and will be available to all BPS Claimants. After 2024, non-BPS claimants will be able to claim.

The application window will open in 2022 for a 10-week period with the first payments being made at the end of the year. Exact dates will be confirmed in early 2022.

Landowners or tenants can enter land on a per parcel basis. The agreement will last three years and can be reviewed annually to add further parcels. Claimants should have management of the land for the full period of the agreement.

In 2022 it will be possible to apply for both CS and SFI, although there is likely to be little crossover between the schemes. Claimants can also claim alongside private sector schemes such as carbon/nutrient trading, flood management payments and biodiversity net gain credits.

There will be three standards in the early rollout:

  • Arable & horticultural soil standards
  • Improved grassland soils standard
  • Moorland and rough grazing standard

In addition, payments will be made for an annual health and welfare review for livestock.

Arable & horticultural soil standards

There are two levels: Introductory and Intermediate. Claimants can choose between one or the other.

Introductory – £22 per hectare

Claimants will need to:

  • test soil organic matter
  • undertake a soil assessment and produce a soil management plan
  • 70% winter cover to protect soil:
    • at least 70% of land in the standard must have green cover over the winter months (Dec-Feb)
    • this can include any kind of green cover, including autumn sown crops and weedy stubbles
  • addition of organic matter:
    • add organic matter to 1/3 of the land in the standard each year
    • this can include any kind of organic matter, including sown green cover crops

Intermediate Level – £40 per hectare

Claimants will need to:

  • test soil organic matter
  • undertake a soil assessment and produce a soil management plan
  • 70% winter cover to protect soil:
    • at least 70% of land in the standard must have green cover over the winter months (Dec-Feb)
    • this must include land with multi-species green cover – covering at least 20% of total land in this level of the standard
  • addition of organic matter:
    • add organic matter to 1/3 of the land in the standard each year
    • this will include multi-species green cover grown under the cover crop requirement above, plus the rest made up of other ways to add organic matter as per the introductory level

Improved grassland soils standard

There are two levels: Introductory and Intermediate. Claimants can choose between one or the other.

Introductory level – £28 per hectare

Claimants will need to:

  • test soil organic matter
  • undertake a soil assessment and produce a soil management plan
  • 95% green cover to protect soil (no more than 5% bare ground over winter)

Intermediate level – £58 per hectare

Claimants will need to:

  • test soil organic matter
  • undertake a soil assessment and produce a soil management plan
  • 95% green cover to protect soil (no more than 5% bare ground over winter)
  • Establish or maintain herbal leys to improve soil health on at least 15% of land in the standard Advanced
  • we plan to add an advanced level to this standard from 2023 onwards

Animal health & welfare review

An annual visit from a vet or vet led team looking to help to reduce endemic diseases in livestock, promote responsible use of meds, improve welfare and increase productivity and build on the strong relationships between farmers and vets.

The scheme will be open to keepers of cattle pigs and sheep who currently claim BPS with more than 50 pigs, 20 sheep or 10 cattle.

The visit will consist of:

  • a discussion with the vet about the health and welfare of the animals, as well as biosecurity, and agree achievable actions for the farmer to take as a result
  • diagnostic testing, which will initially focus on identifying priority endemic diseases or conditions in cattle (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea), pigs (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus) and sheep (anthelmintic resistance). These priorities have been co-designed with industry, to ensure they focus on health issues that matter to farmers, as well as delivering benefits for the national herds or flocks and environment
  • a discussion around medicine usage on farm and the responsible use of medicines, including antibiotics and vaccinations. This includes a recommendation to upload medicines usage to relevant central e-medicines book or hub. The review would also look at opportunities for other actions such as pain management
  • collection of data – the data collected will only be used for improving our understanding of the health and welfare of the national herd and flock. It will not be used by Defra for any regulatory or inspection activity
  • recommendations and monitoring, which will include:
    • a report from the review agreeing specific priority recommendations to improve health and welfare
    • advice about ongoing monitoring to identify how things are changing throughout the year
    • advice on how to record data as part of the review
    • signposts to further support

Defra will fund the visit and payments available to the farmer per visit will be:

  • Pigs – £684
  • Sheep – £436
  • Beef Cattle – £522
  • Dairy Cattle – £372

To discuss, please email tom@artheyassociates.co.uk or call 01832 270269 / 07748 295448

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