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Update on the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI)
25 January 2024

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has recently provided an update as to how the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme will be expanded and improved in 2024.

Primarily, there will be an increase of around 10% for payment rates for options under the scheme, in an aim to provide more money for farmers to deliver change and have a positive impact on the environment. There will also be the introduction of “premium payments” for the 21 actions listed as high priority, where options are considered to have the biggest environmental impact.

In line with this, the number of actions available is being increased so that there will be an additional 50 options available from sometime in the summer. This should mean that the scheme is accessible to more farmers, as there will be a wider range of actions available to choose from.

There will be actions introduced for precision farming, where payments are made for farming actions which use technology and reduce the use of pesticides or fertilisers.

Some of the new additional actions available in summer 2024 are detailed below:

Action AvailablePayment RateDescription
Precision Farming – Variable rate application of nutrients£27 per hectarePrecision farming variable rate technology is used to apply nutrients on arable, horticultural land or improved permanent grassland, to match the nutrient needs of crops for different areas within land parcels
Manage species-rich floodplain meadows (5-year option)£1,070 per hectareSpecies-rich floodplain meadows that periodically flood are managed naturally
Deer control and management (10-year option)£105 per hectareControl native or non-native deer where they are having a negative impact on priority species and habitats such as native woodlands
Footpath access (5-year option)£77 per 100mProvide and maintain new permissive footpaths to the public

DEFRA will also be altering the online application process, so that farmers and land managers can use a single service for both their SFI and Countryside Stewardship (CSS) Mid-Tier applications. The aim of this system is to allow the applicant to select from the range of eligible actions available on each land parcel, as well as combining compatible SFI and CSS Mid-Tier actions. This should lead to a more efficient application process, and less duplication of actions between SFI and CSS scheme agreements.

The new actions will be available later this year, although an exact date is yet to be published. Those with an existing SFI agreement can either add these actions at the existing agreement’s annual review date or start a second SFI agreement when the new options become available.

For more information or to find out how our Rural Property & Business department can help you please contact 01234 352201 or 01280 428010 or email 

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