Sustainable Farming Incentive: What growers need to know


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08 February 2023
Advisor CXCS discusses Defra's new UK standards for 2023.

FOLLOWING the launch of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) in June last year, Defra have announced the introduction of six more standards for 2023 (three having been brought forward from 2024). This builds on the existing three standards to improve soil health and moorlands. 

  • nutrient management standard 
  • integrated pest management standard 
  • hedgerows standard 
  • arable and horticultural land standard 
  • improved grassland standard 
  • low/no input grassland standard 

SFI agreements last for three years and if you already have an existing SFI agreement, you will be able to add these actions and more land. If you’re a tenant farmer, you do not need landlord consent to take part and if you carry out the actions, payments will go to you. 

You can leave the scheme early, with no penalty, if you unexpectedly lose management control of the land you’ve entered into the scheme. 

Further Information on the new SFI standards for 2023 and the payment rates is available here

Defra will be updating the Sustainable Farming Incentive guidance - GOV.UK ( to include the SFI 2023 offer in due course. 

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SFI Management Payments 

To increase the uptake of the SFI, Defra have also introduced a new SFI Management Payment of £20 per hectare, for up to 50 hectares of land entered in the scheme. This means that farmers will receive up to £1,000 per year (in addition to their agreement), to cover the administrative costs of participation. Defra are hoping that this financial incentive will increase the scheme uptake to the level needed to achieve their challenging environmental targets. 

For a 50-hectare farm this represents a potential increase of as much as 50%. This reflects evidence from farmers already in the scheme, that the current payments don’t fully account for the costs of entering and implementing an agreement. This additional payment will benefit small farms in particular, as they are currently half as likely as the average farm to be in an environmental land management scheme. 

The SFI Management Payment will be available for all SFI agreements that include substantive actions, such as changing land management activities. Planning or preparation activities such as the moorland standard however are not eligible.  

Farmers who joined the SFI scheme last year will also be eligible for the SFI Management Payment which will be applied from January 2023 onwards. Defra will provide further information about when and how the SFI Management Payment will be applied in due course. 

Source: CXCS   Photo: Ryutaro Tsukata

CXCS offers seven core services which include: Cross Compliance, Farm Assurance, Basic Payment Scheme, Health & Safety, Carbon Auditing, Human Resources and Rural IT Solutions.