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Agroforestry in Sustainable Farming Incentives (SFI)

Agroforestry in Sustainable Farming Incentives (SFI)

It is great to see the long talked about agroforestry option within the Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) come to fruition. Supporting farmers to incorporate trees into their fields in a considered way is truly a win- win for farm resilience and the environment.

New maintenance payments announced

The latest ELMS announcement focuses very much on the newly announced agroforestry maintenance payments. It's also great to see reference to future capital funding for planning and planting agroforestry.

The four maintenance payment brackets offer increasing payment rates as tree densities increase. We haven’t yet heard how many trees/ha are required for each of the separate maintenance options. The 10-year agreement length is welcome and reflects the long term action that is required to establish agroforestry. 

System design

It will be important to ensure agroforestry systems are designed with achieving outcomes in mind rather than chasing higher maintenance payment rates. Many productive fruit and nut or timber agroforestry systems will most likely be in the lowest density of trees. Translating this to annual income might seem disappointing but within the 10 years of the agreement these trees will become productive, and returns will be greater – ensuring they establish is critical.


The kind of maintenance required to establish trees successfully will vary by species, but could include:

  • Routine tree inspections
  • Grass control – This might be mowing, mulching, grazing (in a controlled fashion!)
  • Checking and securing guards, stakes and ties
  • Annual establishment survey and replacement planting
  • Formative pruning
  • Pest control – Deer, rabbit & squirrel*

*Great to also see standalone payments available for deer and squirrel control. Could this help fund an increase in the uptake in venison to further fuel nationwide deer control?

Long-term thinking

These announced payments look to ensure agroforestry systems are established properly. They will be available from Summer 2024 for farmers with existing agroforestry systems in place.


Next steps

Find out more on the Defra website.

Read a broader review of SFI changes in our update from Senior Farming Advisor Jerry Alford.

Agroforestry resources
If these changes have tempted you to plant trees that will deliver benefits to your farm business, we have several useful resources. See Agroforestry On Your Farm for explanatory films, the Agroforestry Handbook, Agroforestry and Farm Woodland e-learning and more.

Regional agroforestry networks
We're also widening our support through regional agroforestry networks. To find out more, and to sign up to our quarterly Agroforestry newsletter, please contact me (

Future Farm Resilience – workshops, webinars, walks and more
We are running webinars and in-person meetings throughout 2024, to talk through these and more general changes in payments and support. Our focus is on organic, low-input and in-conversion farms, but all are welcome.

See our Events or Resources pages for details.