Sustainable Farming Incentive: full guidance

Guidance about how the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will work for farmers.

Applies to England



The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is the first of 3 new environmental schemes being introduced under the Agricultural Transition Plan. The other 2 schemes are Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery.

SFI aims to help farmers manage land in a way that improves food production and is more environmentally sustainable.

Farmers will be paid to provide public goods, such as:

  • improved water quality
  • biodiversity
  • climate change mitigation
  • animal health and welfare

In 2022, SFI aims to:

  • encourage actions that improve soil health
  • recognise how moorland provides benefits to the public (public goods)
  • improve animal health and welfare by helping farmers with the costs of veterinary advice for livestock
Published 30 March 2022
Last updated 2 September 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated the Applying for an agreement section for further clarification on BPS eligible farmers now being able to apply directly in the Rural Payments service on eligible land in CS/ES agreements that's outside a common.

  2. Updated guidance on how to apply for SFI. Farmers applying for SFI on land outside a common, including land in Countryside or Environmental Stewardship agreements can now apply online.

  3. Updated content about rotational options and available area for Environmental Stewardship.

  4. Update to SFI arable and horticultural soils standard, action 3: updated organic matter to clarify that soil organic matter is added at least once during the 3-year standards agreement.

  5. Clarified information around soil sampling on combined areas of small land parcels

  6. Added extra clarity on when agreement holders will be paid

  7. Updated information on how to apply

  8. Removed terms and conditions glossary from this page (and added link to the standalone terms and conditions page where the glossary remains).

  9. Added information on how to apply online for an SFI standards agreement on land outside a common, and other updates for the public beta launch of SFI.

  10. (1) Added a link to notifying the RPA about a change of circumstances. (2) Added information on possible optional upgrades to SFI standards agreements. (3) Added information on temporary grassland in the arable and horticultural soils standard. (4) Clarified information on multi-species cover crops in the arable and horticultural soils standard. (5) Added information on soil sampling on scheduled monuments in the arable and horticultural soils standard and the improved grassland soils standard. (6) Clarified information on establishing herbal leys in the improved grassland soils standard. (7) Added 'OT3: Organic land management – rotational land' to 'Table 1. Eligible CS revenue options'. (8) Added information on keeping evidence regarding soil organic matter sampling. (9) Changed some details of Action 4: Winter cover in the arable and horticultural soils standard. (10) Updates to and clarification of various terms and conditions.

  11. Added information on taking soil samples on a scheduled monument

  12. Added link to RPA query form

  13. Published updates including: when you will be able to apply for an agreement, how to view common land information, SSSIs, commons eligibility, how an SFI standards agreement interacts with Environmental Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship (clarification about rotational options), annual declarations and upgrading SFI standards agreement, terms and conditions, ‘how to’ guides for the standards

  14. Updated SFI scheme information.

  15. Corrected to explain that land parcels entered into standards agreements should be tested for soil organic matter within 5 years (previously stated 3 years).

  16. Corrected typos. Added links. Clarified that SFI HEFER is not available until SFI applications open. Under "How an SFI standards agreement interacts with other funding schemes": 2 paragraphs removed about private sector schemes and deleted all information on other funding schemes.

  17. Clarified timings of the soil organic matter retesting in the two soils standards.

  18. First published.