Farmers can start registering their interest for the Sustainable Farming incentive (SFI) from this Wednesday (August 30).

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will accept applications for the scheme from Monday, September 18.

Pre-registration this week will ensure farmers are supported to have all necessary information in place so they are ready for when the department starts to accept applications, Defra said.

There are 23 actions on offer under the new 2023 scheme, including on soil health, moorland, hedgerows, integrated pest management, farmland wildlife, buffer strips and low input grassland.

Secretary of State for Food and FarmingThérèse Coffey said: “The Sustainable Farming Incentive is important for sustainability – for production and profitability.

“With opening up the options, from mid September for everyone, there is likely to be an opportunity for every eligible farmer to join SFI.”

Defra said payments under SFI 2023 will be paid quarterly to support farmers’ cashflow and activities required in the scheme. 

Farmers are encouraged to pre-register for the scheme and have all necessary information in place, including online maps and land use / cover details, before applications start being accepted.

Countryside Stewardship

The application window for 2024 Countryside Stewardship (CS) Mid Tier agreements has been extended until Friday, September 15.

Defra said farmers are able to be in SFI and Countryside Stewardship at the same time as long as the actions are compatible and they are not being paid for the same action twice.

Defra said there has been sustained increased demand for new CS agreements in recent years, with the number of agreements almost doubling over three years to 2023.

This has continued into this year – with Defra confirming that it has already received 6,000 applications.

“The confirmed timeline for SFI allows time for small final technical adjustments to ensure the service works as straightforwardly as possible for all our customers and aligns with the closing date for CS,” Defra said.