Sustainable Farming Incentive

SFI Information and Actions

For a quick overview of everything available to farmers under SFI, please do take a look at the information below. Prices below have been updated in line with the most recent announcements.

The range of actions include areas such as soil management, hedgerows, IPM, nutrient management, moorlands, farm wildlife and low input grasslands.

The United Oilseeds sister company Hubbards Seeds can help you with many of the SFI actions which are highlighted in the information provided. For any questions, speak to your United Oilseeds Area Manager or contact the Hubbards team at head office. 


New Actions & Updated payment rates for 2024

Following updates made on 04th January at the Oxford Farming Conference 50 new actions have been announced for summer 2024. These include a range of precision farming and agroforestry options and a focus on options for land managers with moorland and grassland. 

Other January 2024 updates include:

  • An increase in payments available under CS, SFI 2023 and the SFI Pilot which will apply from 1 January 2024 for CS agreements and from the start of the current agreement year for SFI. Defra estimates the increases equate to a 10% uplift in the average value of agreements.
  • Premium payments have been announced for actions with the biggest environmental impact or combinations of actions that deliver benefits at scale, such as £765/ha for nesting plots for lapwing, and £1,242/ha for connecting river and floodplain habitat (see table below for full list). 
  • Defra is also equalising a number of lowland and upland payment rates after complaints from upland farmers that they were unfairly receiving a lower rate of payment.
  • There has been a change in the structure of the grassland habitat offers by merging management and creation options and adjusting the payment rate to a point between management and creation.
  • A streamlined single application process for farmers to apply for the SFI and Mid-Tier CS will be introduced. 
  • The £20/ha management payment for the first 50ha entered into an SFI agreement will continue to be available in 2024.


Summer 2023 updates

  • Creating standalone soil actions, so that they can be stacked with other SFI actions.
  • Allowing SFI pilot participants to enter SFI actions on the same land, where they don’t duplicate the SFI pilot activity, for example including companion crops.
  • The management payment will be paid on moorland areas.

As the SFI is open year-round it's unfortunate that farmers must wait for summer for the 50 new actions to become available. Moreover, anyone with an existing SFI agreement can only add the new options in at their annual review point, which could disadvantage producers who have already entered the scheme. However, one way to get around this would be to complete a new/concurrent SFI agreement for these actions.


Accelerated payment announcement

In a bid to help cashflow, & set against a backdrop of increasing inflation and input costs, ministers have pledged that where a farmer has a ‘live’ SFI agreement before the end of the year (2023) will receive an advance payment of 25% of their money in ‘the first month of their agreement’.


SFI Offer & payment

Each farmer has free choice of which SFI actions they take and what they include in their SFI agreement. Most of the actions can be on part of the field, whereas some need to be on a whole field. E.g. Soil assessment and testing (Less any incompatible areas).

In the next section we provide details of the 23 actions you can be paid for under the SFI. For additional information and specific requirements for each of the actions please also refer to the updated SFI handbook.


Under each of the actions below you'll find links to the relevent Hubbards Seeds products that meet that particular SFI action

Soil Actionsaccordian arrow




SAM1 Test soil organic matter and produce a soil management plan

£5.80/ha + £95 per agreement


SAM2 Multi-species winter cover crops (arable)


All cover crops

SAM3 Herbal leys (grassland)


CSS2 Legume & Herb Rich mix

Multispecies Ley

Moorland Actionsaccordian arrow



MOR1 Assess moorland and produce a plan

£10.30/ha + £265 per agreement

Hedgerow Actionsaccordian arrow




HRW1 Access and record hedgerow condition

£3 per 100m

(One side)


HRW2 Manage hedgerows so there's a range of heights & widths

£10 per 100m

(One side)

Trees for gapping up

HRW3 An average of 1 tree per 100m

£10 per 100m

(Both sides)

Trees and hedging options

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Actionsaccordian arrow




IPM1 Assessment and produce an IPM plan



IPM2 Flower-rich grass areas


AB8 Flower rich margin

CSS3 Wild flower meadow & margin

IPM3 Companion crop


Companion crop options

IPM4 No use of insecticide           


Maize Options

Nutrient Management actionsaccordian arrow




NUM1 Nutrient Management assessment and plan



NUM2 Legumes (improved grassland) growing during spring and early autumn


AB15 / NUM2 without grass

AB15 / NUM2 with grass

AB15 / NUM2 Legume 2 without grass

AB15 / NUM2 Legume 2

NUM3 Rotational

NUM3 Legume Fallow (arable) that flowers during late spring and summer


AB15 / NUM3 without grass

AB15 / NUM3 with grass

AB15 /NUM3 Legume 2 without grass

AB15/ NUM3 Legume 2

NUM3 Rotational

Arable and Horticultural Land actionsaccordian arrow




AHL1 Pollen and nectar flower mix – flowing spring/summer


AB1 Bee Mixture

AB1 Nectar Flower Mix (CSS4)

AB1 Nectar Flower Mix Enhanced (CSS5)

AHL2 Winter bird food (arable)


AB9 Jack Russell

AB9 Bird Feeder


AB9 WBM Grey Partridge (CSS10)

AB9 WBM Finch & Bunting

AB9 WBM Tree Sparrow

AHL3 Grassy field corners and blocks (arable)

£590/ha (Basic Habitat)

Basic Habitat SW1, SW3, SW4

AHL4 4m-12m grass buffer strips on arable land

£515/ha (Beetle bank, CSS8 & CSS9)

AB3 Beetle Bank

AB3 Beetle Bank with Cocksfoot (CSS8)

AB3 Beetle Bank without Cocksfoot (CSS9)

Improved Grassland actionsaccordian arrow




IGL1 Grassy field corners and blocks (grassland)



IGL2 Winter bird food (grassland)



IGL3 4m-12m grassy buffer strips on grassland

£235/ha (Beetle bank, CSS8 & CSS9)

AB3 Beetle Bank

AB3 Beetle Bank with Cocksfoot (CSS8)

AB3 Beetle Bank without Cocksfoot (CSS9)

Buffer stripsaccordian arrow




AHL4 4m to 12m grass buffer strip on arable and horticultural land


AB3 Beetle Bank

AB3 Beetle Bank with Cocksfoot (CSS8)

AB3 Beetle Bank without Cocksfoot (CSS9)

IGL3 4m to 12m grass buffer strip on improved grassland


AB3 Beetle Bank

AB3 Beetle Bank with Cocksfoot (CSS8)

AB3 Beetle Bank without Cocksfoot (CSS9)

Low Input Grassland actionsaccordian arrow



LIG1 & LIG2 (In & Outside SDA’s) Very low nutrient inputs


Payments will be made quarterly, starting in the fourth month after your agreement starts. This will be for a quarter of the annual value of the agreement.



Farmers need to be eligible for BPS in either May 2022 or May 2023 (This will change in the future). On common land, one or more people need to have been eligible to use the common to claim BPS in 2021, 2022 or 2023.

There are also individual eligibility requirements for the SFI actions, requiring the land to be recorded on Rural Payments with the appropriate cover. E.G., for SFI arable actions, the field needs to have arable crops recorded. You’ll also need to have management control over each action to deliver the required actions.


Tenant applications and management

Tenants are able to apply for SFI without consent of their landlord (subject to their tenancy agreement terms). Each tenant needs to be confident they will have management control for the three-year term of the agreement.

For tenants on short-term rolling agreements, they can enter SFI, provided they expect to have management control for three years. However, Defra is being more lenient with potential penalties. Meaning, if land has to be removed prior to the end of the three years, due to elements outside of their control, it will not lead to penalties. In all likelihood, you may need to repay monies received for the year in question.


Common land and shared grazing

Separate agreements will exist for areas of common land or shared grazing. The common will need to have its own Single Business Identifier (SBI) and meet the basic eligibility requirements. It will also need to be set up as a single entity which has legal arrangements in place to manage the agreement, and have its own bank account. There is a payment of £6.15/ha where the common involves two or more people.


Managing your agreement

SFI agreements are managed online through the Rural Payments service and last for 3 years. There is a rolling application window with agreements starting on the 01st of any month. Should you not operate online, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) offer support for these applications. The RPA can be reached via telephone on 03000 200 301.

There will be a requirement to complete an annual declaration confirming that you have completed the SFI actions. The declaration will be needed to release the final payment for that year.

It is possible to increase the scope of your agreement by adding land or actions. These will apply from the anniversary of your agreement, for the remainder of your three-year term. Removal of land or actions will not normally be allowed.

It is not possible to transfer the agreement to another person. If you do need to end your agreement on an area of ground Defra may ask for repayments. There will be no penalties applied to the remainder of the agreement.


Crop rotations

It is possible to rotate certain actions under the SFI with the flexibility to vary the area to be claimed for year on year.

For years 2 and 3 you can enter a larger area than you entered into agreement for. You are also able to decrease the area claimed, as long as it remains at least 50% of the original area.


Monitoring and compliance

Each individual SFI action has its own record keeping requirements which can be found in the SFI handbook. For example, for the first of the hedgerow actions (HRW1) you’ll need to keep a written record of your hedgerow condition assessment and supply this evidence if requested.

It’s clear that Defra want to employ different methods to assess SFI delivery. The scheme is moving away from inspectors to field officers. The role of the field officer is to support the farmer if they find something doesn’t appear to fit within the agreement. Payments will not be withheld on suspicions of an agreement breech.

Should Defra find a breech, they will only apply repayments to that specific area and likely for the single year of that action.


Compatibility with other schemes

You can enter land that’s used for other government schemes and funding sources into an SFI agreement if:

  • you and your land are eligible for each scheme or funding source
  • the activities or outcomes you’re being paid for are compatible
  • you will not be paid twice for a similar activity or outcome on the same area of land at the same time (known as ‘double funding’)

Details of compatibility with other schemes can be found starting on page 113 of the SFI handbook. Schemes include BPS, CS, ES, SFI Pilot, Landscape Recovery, Protected Landscapes and Private sector schemes.


Rape seed illustration


Contact us today on 01380 732308 for a seed quote, to discuss your seed requirements or for some help & advice.

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