Expanded SFI 2024 Brings SFI 2023 & Countryside Stewardship INTO ONE SCHEME

Expanded SFI 2024 Brings SFI 2023 & Countryside Stewardship Into One Scheme

George Badger

George Badger

May, 24 2024

The details around the new Expanded SFI 2024 offer have been released, with applications open fully from 22nd July. Those wishing to apply sooner can fill out an expression of interest, and in the meantime, SFI 2023 applications can still be made online via the current system. New entrants and previous non-claimants of BPS can now apply. 

 The new offer incorporates the existing SFI 2023 options, and Countryside Stewardship into a single scheme. There are many similarities to the current SFI 2023 offer, including:   

  • Payments made quarterly from month four 
  • Three-year option durations 
  • Tenant-friendly 
  • 25% cap on certain non-food-producing options. 

 There are also several new options available to applicants which include:  

  • PRF1: Variable rate application of nutrients £27/ha. This is rotational but must be all nutrients including organic manures, i.e., using a variable rate file or crop sensor. 
  • SOH1: No-till farming £73/ha. Non-rotational, but strictly no conventional or shallow cultivation, only stubble rake/straw harrow with rear facing tines. Low disturbance subsoiling can be done where justified e.g., wet weather at harvest. 
  • SOH3: Summer cover crop £163/ha. Sow June-Aug. Cannot be harvested or grazed (except for destruction). Destroy no less than two weeks before sowing cash crops. 
  • WBD1: Management of ditches (or lack thereof!) £4/100m. Cut vegetation no more than 50% per year, clean out ditch no more than one year in three. 
  • AGF2: Maintain low density agroforestry £385/ha, which can be used on other ELM options e.g., Herbal Ley 
  • BND1: Maintain dry stone walls £27/100m for both sides. The main requirement being to keep them in good repair.

Some of the existing SFI 2023 options also have subtle differences under the Expanded SFI 2024 offer: 

  • CNUM3: Legume fallow £593/ha. If you are establishing in year one the option is now ‘static’ and must stay in the same place for the three years, if you are looking for a spring sowing and removal in the same year, then SOH2 or 3 (summer cover crops) are recommended. 
  • CSAM3: Herbal ley £382/ha. This is also static if establishing in year one, and the aims of the action now include producing flowering plants from late spring and during summer months 

 For those in an existing HLS or CS Mid-Tier, there will be the mechanism from September 2024 to transfer into an SFI or CS Higher Tier, potentially simplifying the administration. There will be further developments to come this Summer, in the shape of further details around new CS Higher Tier applications and new ‘premium payment’ actions. For example, the 10-year ‘connect river and floodplain habitats’ for £1,242/ha (which will require Natural England endorsement).   

Overall, whilst the intention is to simplify applications and claims going forwards, it is more important than ever to read the detailed guidance and take advice to effectively navigate the differences between SFI 2023 and SFI 2024 to ensure a new scheme fits your system of farming. 

To speak to a member of our team about what rural grants could benefit your business, email contact@ceresrural.co.uk, or contact a specific consultant – you can find details on the meet the team page of this website. 

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