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SFI expanded offer – May 2024 update

SFI Expanded Offer – May 2024 Update

From our Farming advisors Jerry Alford and Tabitha Acton

After much anticipation, the latest update from Defra and environmental payments was announced on Tuesday 21st May. You can see the full update here on the website. However, my colleague, Tabitha Acton, and I have trawled through to highlight some of the major differences and key points for your consideration.  

The first important point is that these new guidelines relate to NEW agreements and anyone with an existing agreement doesn’t need to change.

The application remains the same as the current SFI process, simply the ‘expanded’ number of options will be available where relevant. For those currently in SFI agreements the option to start an additional agreement will be available or to add additional actions to your current agreement.

Notable differences and new actions:

  • Code changes: A lot of the codes now look quite different. However, many of them have the same or very similar actions/options attached to them. In short, the 2023 SFI options have all had a ‘C’ added to the beginning of the code. The absorbed CS codes have changed to align with new categories. We have created tables (see links to screen grabs below) to help compare your previous code with what the equivalent/similar action would be in a new application. Note: with the change in prescriptions there may be subtle changes in the move from CS to SFI.

SFI Extended Offer-Update-Grassland  |  SFI Extended Offer-Update-Arable

(apologies for the poor quality. For the full excel spreadsheet, please email

  • Herbal ley CSAM3: These now need to contain at least 1 grass, 2 legumes and 2 herbs and can receive no more than 40kgN fertiliser (for non-organic farmers). This is in keeping with best practice and so will result in better outcomes. Where this is planted for the SFI it must remain for 3 years, an existing one can be maintained initially and if reseeded can be somewhere else. The OP4 organic herbal ley option is no longer available so all organic farms should apply for this where you have herbal leys or existing leys that qualify.
  • Multi-species cover crops CSAM2: The species mix must be at least 4 species, at least 2each from 2 of brassicas, legumes, cereals, and grasses (no more than 25% of total mix by weight) and herbs.

There are 2 other options paying £163/ha -spring cover crops SOH2 which is planted March -May and summer cover crops June to August with the same species mix requirements. These can be terminated by grazing, but it is expected to be reseeded with a cash crop in the Autumn.

  • Legume fallow CNUM3: This option is expected to remain in situ for 3 years, although existing ones can be maintained and then reseeded in different parcels.
  • No-till farming (£73/ha): This does require specific direct drill equipment, and this excludes strip till drills, although a shallow subsoiler is allowed-it needs clarification. Broadcasting is allowed. Any field entered into this option has to be direct drilled for all 3 years of the agreement.
  • Agroforestry AGF1 and AGF2: There are currently 2 options very low density 30-50 trees per ha (£248/ha) and low density 51-100 (£385/ha). This can be part of a field. This can be used in conjunction with many of the other CS and SFI options-such as herbal leys, organic conversion and management and Low input grassland (LIG).
  • Limited area actions: an action or combination of actions that are limited to be used on a max of 25% of the farm. Earlier in the year after lots of media coverage, 6 actions were announced that would be limited. The extended offer has seen another 4 actions added to this list, with a further 4 actions that are under review (but currently not restricted).
    • CIPM2: Flower-rich grass margins, blocks, or in-field strips
    • CAHL1: Pollen and nectar flower mix
    • CAHL2: Winter bird food on arable and horticultural land
    • CAHL3: Grassy field corners or blocks
    • CIGL1: Take improved grassland field corners or blocks out of management.
    • CIGL2: Winter bird food on improved grassland
    • WBD3: In-field grass strips
    • AHW1: Bumblebird mix
    • AHW9: Unharvested cereal headland
    • AHW11: Cultivated areas for arable plants


Under review – currently no restrictions, any change would affect new agreements.

  • AHW3: Beetle banks
  • AHW5: Nesting plots for lapwing
  • AHW12: Manage woodland edges on arable land.
  • SCR1: Create scrub and open habitat mosaics.
  • Moorland payments: payments on moorlands/uplands have seen maybe the most change as part of this new extended offer. More actions and supplements have been added to create more specific management, where the current CS includes one shepherding option SP5, new applications have four actions to choose from; UPL7, UPL8, UPL9, and UPL10 to choose from, with specific timeframes included. The above four actions can also be ‘stacked’ with new livestock on moorland options, broken down based on intensity (moderate, low and limited).

These changes should mean that more farms can access payments on their moorlands, without requiring de-stocking, or access higher payments by increased stock exclusion, if this is something that fits in with your farming business.

  • Boundaries: For those of you living in counties like Northumberland with lots of dry-stone walls, the new action will be of interest. BND1 pays £27 per 100m (both sides) to manage your walls, unlike the Hedgerow payments, no report is required. Simply take a picture and note the date when a bit of wall comes down and then the same again when you get it back up. Fixing gaps etc. does need to happen within 12 months of them appearing, however hopefully this isn’t too strenuous a stipulation.

For the southern counties, such as Devon, new action BND2 - Maintain earth banks or stone-faced hedgebanks, has a similar structure. The payment rate is £11 per 100m (per side), so both sides can be claimed if you have management responsibility for them. Where there is a hedge on top of the bank, the HRW2 options will also be available in addition.