• Available Spring 2022.
  • Open to all farmers eligible for BPS.
  • Two standards to choose from: Arable and Horticultural Soils Standard and Improved Grassland Soils Standard (payments of between £26 and £70 per hectare (estimated) and Moorland and Rough Grazing Standard (Payment rate to be confirmed).
  • Annual Health and Welfare Review. Funds a yearly vet visit (£269-£775).
  • More standards to be added as scheme progresses.

So far, we have been involved in the SFI Pilot, which has given us a good idea of what is to follow in further rollouts of SFI (see here). Now however, we have the first brief details of the 2022 early rollout SFI which will be available for everyone.

Compared with the pilot there will be fewer standards to choose from in the first year, with no learning and feedback requirements but also no accompanying ‘pilot payment’. It will also be available to all farmers eligible for BPS.

Applying for the early rollout should appeal to a large number of farmers who want an income stream in addition to BPS. This will start mitigating the reducing BPS payments. The selection of standards, whilst limited, will be relevant to most land. Most of the activities will be familiar where other types of payments are being made under existing schemes.

More standards will be added as the scheme progresses towards the final version in 2024.


Arable and Horticultural Soils Standard and Improved Grassland Soils Standard

This standard aims to reward farmers for management practices that improve soil health by improving soil structure, soil organic matter, and soil biology. There will be three levels of ambition to choose from which decide on the actions required and the payment received. Whilst the payment rate is yet to be confirmed, the estimated rate is between £26 and £70 per hectare.

Moorland and Rough Grazing Standard

This standard involves assessing the variety of habitats and features on moorland ground. Payment will be made to identify pressures on these resources plus the risk of wildfires with maybe no actual actions required. Unlike other standards there will only be one level of ambition. There is currently no information on the payment rate, but DEFRA will announce further details by November.

Annual Health and Welfare Review

This is not a ‘standard’ as such but is the first glimpse of the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway part of ELMs. This is essentially a fund for yearly visits from a vet, providing diagnostic testing and advice on improving livestock health and welfare. This will be available for all commercial cattle, pig and sheep. Depending on the type of livestock, payments will range from £269-£775 per annum.

The length, compliance monitoring and flexibility of agreements are all still being decided upon with the payment rates being finetuned. It is worth noting that the payment rate for the Arable and Horticultural Soils Standard and Improved Grassland Soils Standard is different to similar standards under the pilot scheme suggesting it may require different actions or that DEFRA will be making an amendment to the pilot.