Defra secretary George Eustice announced the new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) rates while speaking at the recently held Cereals event: from spring 2022, farmers in England will be able to earn up to £70/ha to improve their soil health.
“Our soil can provide a great opportunity to store carbon, reduce emissions, and improve water quality and biodiversity,” said Mr Eustice.
“That is why we want our future policies to support this movement. It’s going to start with incentivising farmers to be custodians of their soils.”
The Sustainable Farming Incentive will consist of four different health standards: One on arable and horticultural soil, one on improved grassland, a third on moorland and rough grazing and a fourth on animal health and welfare.
“If farmers get these things right it will improve their profitability,” he said.
NFU president, Minette Batters, also discussed the important role growers have to play in tackling climate change:
“As we look down the road to net zero, growers have a rare ability to fuel the bioeconomy and have a positive impact on decarbonisation within both farming and other sectors.”
“Our arable farmers are also uniquely placed to capture carbon through soil management, such as through green cover crops or reduced tillage systems, and it’s so important that government schemes such as the SFI properly incentivise, support and reward this type of work.”
“But we can’t underestimate the challenges,” added Ms Batters. “One challenge we face is around building climate resilience, both on a national scale and on an individual farm basis to give our businesses the best chance of surviving and thriving in the future.”
Carbon management and increased productivity dominated the seminar programme at this year’s Cereals event, which took place as a physical event for the first time in 2 years on 30th June and 1st July. In addition to policy; Helen Chesshire, senior farming advisor at the Woodland Trust outlined how integrating forestry can create both ecological and economic benefits to farmers; advancements in both robotics and drone technology were demonstrated, and regenerative farming techniques examined, over the 2 days.