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With the end of 2021 fast approaching, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have finally provided details of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) early rollout, due to occur in spring 2022. The proposed rollout, the first element of the Environmental Land Management Schemes, is a slimmed-down version of the Sustainable Farming Incentive Pilot, the agreements of which are currently being implemented.

The SFI early rollout (SFI 2022) has seen amendments to the initial concept of the scheme, with policymakers listening to applicants’ and experts’ thoughts on the practicalities of operation. The agreements will last 3 years, with payments made quarterly. There will be no minimum or maximum land areas and applicants will be able to choose the specific land parcels included in the agreement. There will also be an element of flexibility to amend the agreement every 12 months – such as including additional land areas.

As with the SFI Pilot, the SFI 2022 requires applicants to enter land parcels into ‘Standards’, being:

The first two Soil Standards will be the focus for most applicants. These Standards will only have introductory and intermediate levels to start with. As with the SFI Pilot, the payment received is reflective of the level of Standard that is entered into.

A summary of the requirements and the related payments, per hectare, are summarized below:

Arable and Horticultural Soils Standard

Grassland Soils Standard

The advanced levels for both Standards are expected to be introduced from 2023. We have been told the Advanced Arable and Horticultural Soils Standard will focus on no-till and min-till farming. 

Effort has been made to keep the Standards, and levels, as simple as possible to encourage implementation on the ground. However, there are specific nuances to several of the requirements, e.g. time requirements for the testing of soil organic matter. It is recommended that the full scheme is reviewed and considered in advance of the application window, which will be 10 weeks, opening in spring 2022.

The full scheme manual can be found at:

Sustainable Farming Incentive: how the scheme will work in 2022 – GOV.UK

If you would like more information or to discuss the options available, please contact a member of our Rural Team.