A sustainable farming incentive scheme pilot has been launched in England, which aims to pay farmers for environmental land management.

Farmers who enter into the scheme will be paid to carry out “environmentally sustainable actions”, such as planting and managing hedgerows, managing low-input grassland, creating buffer zones, farm woodlands and improving soil health.

The pilot scheme is expected to begin in October 2021 and run until 2024.

It will be used to ensure that the scheme works in practice and changes may be made before the official launch.

Expressions of interest are currently being sought from farmers.

Payment for learning

Farmers taking part in the pilot will also receive a payment for carrying out learning activities.

There is expected to be three tiers in the programme - introductory, intermediate and advanced.

Payments will vary between tiers and between the actions taken.

To meet the advanced criteria, it is understood that minimum sward height is increased, some ryegrass must be allowed to seed, precision fertiliser application must be used and applied according to soil maps.

The pilot scheme may be carried out in a similar way to the new REPS (Rural Environmetal Protection Scheme) pilot.

It's good to see that English farmers will not only implement the measures, but will also provide feedback and be paid to do so.