The UK Government has confirmed the early rollout of a new environmental land management scheme that will reward farmers for adopting more sustainable farming approaches.
That means farmers who are eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme will be able to sign up to the new Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme from next spring.
The scheme will be made relevant to all types of farms as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) seeks to “bring more land and more farms into environmental management than ever before”.
It is expected to help accelerate the widespread adoption of more sustainable approaches on all types of farms, including maintaining and enhancing the natural environment, reducing carbon emissions and improving the health and welfare of farmed animals.
The Sustainable Farming Incentive will be the first of three environmental land management schemes to be rolled out and will include actions to improve soil health and water quality, enhance hedgerows and promote integrated pest management.
Payments of between £26 and £70 per hectare will be offered for management practices that enhance soil health by improving soil structure, soil organic matter and soil biology.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Soil health is the key to delivering our targets on the environment and improving farm profitability. Well managed soils can lead to increased biodiversity, improved water quality and reduced carbon emissions.
“Our new Sustainable Farming Incentive will eventually be open to every farmer in England and will incentivise a shift towards more sustainable soil and grassland management.”