We've made some minor changes to the SFI Handbook for the 2023 offer and provided voluntary guidance on how you could do the SFI actions in response to feedback from farmers.
In this post, we’ll share an overview and links.
Updates to the SFI Handbook for the 2023 offer
In June, we published the SFI Handbook for the 2023 offer on GOV.UK. It sets out all the actions we will pay for and the scheme's rules.
In response to feedback from farmers and others, we’ve:
- clarified some wording
- increased flexibility of some actions – for example:
- farmers can now rotate actions NUM3 (legume fallow) and AHL1 (pollen and nectar flower mix) as part of crop rotations
- action SAM3 (herbal leys) can now be done on the same land as Countryside Stewardship options OT1 and OR1 (relating to organic land)
- updated the handbook to link to the ‘how to do the actions’ guidance, which we’ll explain below.
We’re making these changes because the controlled rollout of the 2023 offer has not yet started.
Once the controlled rollout starts from later this month, we’ll minimise any further changes to the SFI handbook.
This is to provide stability, give certainty to farmers and agents, and save them the trouble of having to keep up to date with changes.
Voluntary 'How to do the SFI actions' guidance
We’ve also created ‘How to do the SFI actions’ guidance. This new guidance explains good practice.
It gives advice on how you might choose to do the actions in the SFI handbook. It gives reassurance if you're unsure how to undertake an action, or if you're concerned you might do the wrong thing.
It covers each of the 23 actions in the SFI 2023 offer. These actions relate to:
- soil health
- assessment of moorland
- integrated pest management
- nutrient management
- farmland wildlife
- buffer strips
- low input grassland
This new guidance is voluntary. It’s there to help. You don’t have to follow it.
This is part of our overall approach to making SFI less prescriptive than previous schemes.
The SFI handbook for the 2023 offer sets out what farmers must do. All other guidance is voluntary.
Before we start accepting application for the SFI 2023 offer, we’ll publish guidance to help farmers applying for an SFI agreement.
It will cover:
- how to apply for an SFI agreement, including a video to explain the online application process
- how to check and accept an SFI agreement offer in the Rural Payments service.