Sustainable Farming Incentive: how the scheme will work in 2022

Sustainable farming incentive details published today 2 December 2021

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Thankyou Janet. I understand that we as farmers could add options to an existing agreement.
My question was, could Defra?
You can decide to add more land, standards or levels of ambition each year. At the end of your 3-year agreement you could decide whether to enter into another agreement, and we may change the standards / requirements for new agreements over time. But we wouldn't add or change requirements for you once you've entered into a 3-year agreement.

(We've said something different about this for the pilot - that's because it's a pilot and the whole point of the pilot is to learn and adapt, so we might, in consultation with pilot participants, change things on a more frequent cycle as we learn and want to test ways to solve the issues we find. We're paying pilot participants a learning fee to cover some of the work involved for them in this set of learning and improvement activities.)
 

Humble Village Farmer

Member
NFFN Member
Location
Cb97ej
Yes but by who's definition... I am concerned so much of this is still open to widely different interpretations and even if a light tough approach is taken to begin there is much danger the official interpretations will creep over time! We have only recently seen the creep in official interpretation of legislation around autumn manure applications. Two years from now there might be entirely different people at the top of the agencies involved, these may come in with different perspectives and wish to impose different interpretations. It seems to me vital we demand specific and binding clarification on many of these points so we can have long term confidence.

If autumn sown cereals which receive no autumn herbicide meet the "multi species green cover" definition used in this scheme then I will be happy, if they can have a grass weed herbicide but no broad weed control and still qualify, then even more so... However it it means to qualify I have to autumn establish cover crops and spring crop 20% of the farm I will be rather less happy!

I can read into this any interpretation I like, but my interpretation will not mean sh!t in the event that the RPA have other ideas!! I don't want to be the one funding a court case to argue with the RPA that a couple of Groundsel and Pansy seedlings in a late drilled pigeon and slug damaged Autumn cereal crop meets the definition "multi species green cover"

A light touch interpretation vs a heavy touch interpretation is chalk and cheese!!
Surely, when you see the rules published, you can see whether it works for you or not? Unless it says "the green cover must be destroyed by a certain date" or "it must not contain a winter cereal intended for harvest" then you should be able to do it and get paid as well. These rules are there to be bent so they work for you.

They have already said they are going to be less prescriptive.
 

Vader

Member
Mixed Farmer
What’s it done to soil OM levels and water infiltration rates?

What’s it done to soil microbiology?
No surface water, unlike our outcrop land.
Point it if we want to grow root veg, you going to disturb the soil and plough at times in the rotation.
Fact that it's growing a great wheat crop couple years later shows not a lot of damage if its good land.
 

BrianV

Member
Livestock Farmer
Sorry to have been slow to reply to this one -
Winter cereals from late October are unlikely to deliver the level of cover required by the 1st December. In order to meet the 70% coverage you could consider adjusting your rotation, sowing cover crops immediately post harvest and moving to spring cropping or, where possible, undersowing the previous crop. It is also worth noting deep peat soils below the moorland line are not eligible for the soils Standards.

Also note you can enter as many or few of your parcels into SFI as you wish, so you could choose a selection that allows you to meet the 70% requirement.
How can farmers plan anything when faced with statements such as "winter cereals are UNLIKELY to deliver", what the heck does that mean, either winter cereals do or don't qualify you can't have if's & maybe's when farming & entering into a binding contract!
 
Does no input pp mean no muckspreading?
We plan to introduce a ‘low and no input grassland’ standard in 2024. We’ll explain precisely why we mean by these terms in guidance. In essence, ‘no input’ means that no farmyard manure is added, whereas ‘low input’ means only low levels of farmyard manure is added. Meanwhile there are options in countryside stewardship for low and no input grassland, and I'd encourage you to look there if you wanted to start getting paid for public goods on this land earlier than 2024. We'll be opening a new round of CS next year, as usual.
 
How can farmers plan anything when faced with statements such as "winter cereals are UNLIKELY to deliver", what the heck does that mean, either winter cereals do or don't qualify you can't have if's & maybe's when farming & entering into a binding contract!
I am trying to be as clear as I can, but without seeing your individual farm I can't know whether something is likely to work or not in your particular setting because how you best do this on your land in your location depends on all kinds of factors. Also, the way we are approaching this is that we will be less prescriptive and allow more flexibility for farmers to work out what's best for their setting, and this will be accompanied by a more supportive and constructive approach to inspections and what we do if we find something that hasn't gone to plan (ie we help you to get back on track). We'll publish more detailed guidance so you can plan what to do and work out what's likely to work / not work, as soon as we can in the new year.
 

delilah

Member
Sorry to have been slow to reply to this one -
Winter cereals from late October are unlikely to deliver the level of cover required by the 1st December. In order to meet the 70% coverage you could consider adjusting your rotation, sowing cover crops immediately post harvest and moving to spring cropping or, where possible, undersowing the previous crop. It is also worth noting deep peat soils below the moorland line are not eligible for the soils Standards.

Also note you can enter as many or few of your parcels into SFI as you wish, so you could choose a selection that allows you to meet the 70% requirement.

Everyone should save that post. As evidence of the utter insanity of trying to use public money to interfere with cropping decisions.
 
@Janet Hughes Defra, Im considering an area of agroforestry. Is this going to be in later ambitions and if I start now will I be worse off than waiting for the rules to be published? Also, how prescriptive will it be with regard to tree spacing, avenue width and choice of species please?
We have just begun the development work on the agro-forestry Standards. At this stage our intension is to keep this as flexible as we can rather than setting detailed prescriptions for things like tree spacing, avenue width and choice of species, as every farming situation is different and we want to allow farmers to respond to market needs.

SFI in general is designed to pay for maintenance of existing assets, so you shouldn't be at a disadvantage if you've already got started. But until we have finalised the Standard we can’t answer detailed queries. We'll publish a timeline for development and publication of all the SFI standards, in the new year. If you'd be interested to get involved in designing and testing the standard, please let me know, we're looking for people to work with us on this.
 

Vader

Member
Mixed Farmer
Looking less and less attractive....
Expecting you to grow a spring crop if you can not get drilled early...
Spring crop plus little environment sub probably won't pay as well as ww drilled at best time what don't meet the standards.
Can be a nice dry warm back end.
Or suddenly drop cold and wet.
Looks more and more that this stuff is planned by non farmers who don't understand farming.
Do they know the weather is not under our control...?
 

BrianV

Member
Livestock Farmer
Sorry Janet but the flexibility looks to me to be more on Defra's side of the fence, whilst I'm sure we would all appreciate Defra's help in getting back on track unless they can now miraculously encourage slow growing winter barley in a cold autumn to suddenly spurt on then getting back on track sounds more than a little ominous. Either winter cereals qualify or they do not, you cannot have flexible rules depending on the weather & expect farmers to take chances with it!
 
On the intermediate grassland standard 15% must be placed into herbal leys. If all your grassland is old PP does that not mean ripping it up and planting a new ley? With all the accompanying use of chemicals and fuel and destruction of the soil OM via cultivation? Does this not run entirely contrary to what we are told we are supposed to be doing?
Including herbal leys in an all grass farming system can offer some real benefits to the soil and wider natural environment. Many farmers are having great success establishing this type of ley by direct drilling or over-sowing and therefore avoiding ploughing.
 
Sorry Janet, I must be slow today but does that mean grassland has to be classed as temporary grass on the rural land register to count as improved grassland and that all land designated (very artificially I might add) by RPA as permanent pasture is automatically "unimproved grassland" for the SFI?
To be eligible for the Improved Grassland Standard land must recorded as Permanent Grassland on the Rural Payments system.

We are allowing annual changes to SFI agreements so land can move from one Standard to another to reflect changes in cropping plans over the course of the agreement.
 

bobk

Member
Location
stafford
Including herbal leys in an all grass farming system can offer some real benefits to the soil and wider natural environment. Many farmers are having great success establishing this type of ley by direct drilling or over-sowing and therefore avoiding ploughing.
What's wrong with ploughing Janet ?
I'd be bankrupt in 3 years if we went on a dd or no till system .
My chemical bill would double without the plough
 

andybk

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Mendips Somerset
As I have repeatedly pointed out the only way that happens is if land is nationalised, and farmers become employees of the State. Then the only thing they can spend their wages on is themselves. If farmers are private individuals in business then any cash that is given to them by the State by any method can (and will) be spent on new machinery (ending up in the manufacturers pocket), paying rent on land (ending up in landowners pockets) or spent on inputs (ending up in suppliers pockets).

There is literally no way you can give money to people in business that stops them going and spending it on business expenses, short of prohibiting them from being in business in the first place. Look at all the different types of subsidy system we have tried over the last 80 years. The only one that worked in making farmers rich was the guaranteed price system, and that just ended up in butter mountains and stores full of intervention grain, so thats not coming back. Everything else has just leached out into higher rents and higher input and machinery prices. Its the nature of the subsidy beast.
I think the variable premium for lamb worked , there wernt mountains of lamb , just a bonus paid separately for something that fitted the spec , if anything it encouraged quality over quantity , the move to headage was a definite step backwards to overgrazing and everything kept for breeding producing lambs that were harder to sell
 

andybk

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Mendips Somerset
How can farmers plan anything when faced with statements such as "winter cereals are UNLIKELY to deliver", what the heck does that mean, either winter cereals do or don't qualify you can't have if's & maybe's when farming & entering into a binding contract!
It might be possible if the cereal crop is under sowed with clovers that spread under the first canopy , then winter cereals are DD into that clover cover , will just mean a different approach , and re-educating the agronomists
 

DaveGrohl

Member
Location
Cumbria
Everyone should save that post. As evidence of the utter insanity of trying to use public money to interfere with cropping decisions.
I'm glad others have noticed that. I had to read it twice and my eyeballs were still spinning.

Soooo many problems with the original post. To pick one: last year we sew a cereal crop in mid Sept (because decades of experience here informs us to do it then). Perfect conditions, pre-emergence spray went on straight away. Crop started to emerge, established well, all looking lovely, then we had biblical amounts of rain over one weekend. Shortly after large swathes of different fields started turning yellow then white. Then soil coloured. What should've been several fields of lovely looking cereals looked anything but by the end of Oct. Does that mean our payment is removed?

And the other obvious question is, why 1 Dec? Why not 2 Dec, or 28 Nov or 1 Feb? Ie the obsession with dates that are utterly inappropriate is a huge pointless problem entirely of the making of a bureaucratic mindset. If you want to engage farmers start talking to them. Properly.
 
Last edited:
Sorry to have been slow to reply to this one -
Winter cereals from late October are unlikely to deliver the level of cover required by the 1st December. In order to meet the 70% coverage you could consider adjusting your rotation, sowing cover crops immediately post harvest and moving to spring cropping or, where possible, undersowing the previous crop. It is also worth noting deep peat soils below the moorland line are not eligible for the soils Standards.

Also note you can enter as many or few of your parcels into SFI as you wish, so you could choose a selection that allows you to meet the 70% requirement
Sorry to have been slow to reply to this one -
Winter cereals from late October are unlikely to deliver the level of cover required by the 1st December. In order to meet the 70% coverage you could consider adjusting your rotation, sowing cover crops immediately post harvest and moving to spring cropping or, where possible, undersowing the previous crop. It is also worth noting deep peat soils below the moorland line are not eligible for the soils Standards.

Also note you can enter as many or few of your parcels into SFI as you wish, so you could choose a selection that allows you to meet the 70% requirement.
Will Miscanthus as a perennial grass harvested in annually in March / April satisfy the 70% cover @Janet Hughes Defra
85421ED2-5789-4729-924D-82A8335D3D8C.jpeg
requirements
 

BrianV

Member
Livestock Farmer
It might be possible if the cereal crop is under sowed with clovers that spread under the first canopy , then winter cereals are DD into that clover cover , will just mean a different approach , and re-educating the agronomists
Seems to me more a case of DEFRA trying to re-educate long established farmers when it might of been far more beneficial to start educating DEFRA employees to the real life farming world!
 
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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

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A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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