The full Sustainable Farming Incentive will not be available until 2024, but a scaled-back version of it will launch in 2022.
This early version of the scheme will be open to all BPS claimants, including those who are already in CS.
It will reward farmers for adopting sustainable management practices across ‘core’ areas such as soil management, integrated pest management, nutrient management and livestock management.
Defra is trying to design the SFI to be as accessible and straightforward as possible and their goal is to achieve a widespread shift in management practices across the industry.
To achieve this, it is likely to take away a lot of the choice and complexity of CS, which requires applicants to select from a big range of options all with different eligibility criteria, payment rates and management prescriptions.
Signing up to the SFI should be a lot simpler, so it may attract farmers who have been put off by the long application process and piles of paperwork that are sometimes associated with stewardship.
Engaging with the SFI early on will mean that when the full scheme is launched, farmers are already familiar with its principles and have had time to adapt your management accordingly.
For some farming systems, the requirements of the SFI may not differ much or at all from their existing practice, which could make it an easy way to access additional funding.