The new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) 2023 will accept applications from August, offering additional actions and greater flexibility.

Farmers will be paid for taking actions that support food production and improve farm productivity and resilience, while also protecting and improving the environment.

The 23 actions on offer cover existing themes including soil health and moorland, as well as new actions on hedgerows, integrated pest management, nutrient management, farmland wildlife, buffer strips, and low input grassland.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer says feedback from farmers led to work to streamline and improve the SFI, to make it as simple and flexible as possible. “We want farmers to access a package that works best for them. The scheme will remain flexible to allow for the changing requirements of both farmers and their markets to ensure the best outcomes for food production and the natural environment.”


The range of actions mean farmers could be paid from £10 per 100m for managing one side of a hedgerow (plus a further £10 per 100m to maintain or establish hedgerow trees); £129 per hectare for multi-species cover crops; or £589 for a nutrient management review.

The government has confirmed the SFI management payment will be applied to all land-based SFI actions, including moorland, and has updated the payment rate for low input grassland action to make the rates the same for upland and lowland areas.

Short-term agreements

SFI 2023 also makes a range of actions and payments more accessible to those on short-term agreements, and includes a range of new actions not previously available in schemes.

Brad Tooze says Natural England worked closely with Defra to support the development of the new actions. “We’d encourage all land managers to look closely at the SFI 2023 offer, to see what they could deliver on their land to benefit nature and wildlife.

“Natural England believes that over time, with sufficient uptake, SFI could make a substantial contribution to reducing the impacts from farming on the environment.”

Defra’s commitment

Mark Tufnell from the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says this update shows a commitment from Defra. “These changes show Defra is committed to responding to feedback received from farmers on the ground, helping to ensure the scheme works for as many businesses as possible. We look forward to the scheme being rolled out in August.

“We note that some 3,200 farming businesses will have to reapply for the schemes. It’s a pity the process couldn’t have been smoother for these businesses, we’ll press Defra and the RPA to ensure further procedural improvements are made where necessary,” he says.