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The Environmental Land Management Scheme

What we know so far…

With the transition from direct farm support to new environmental policies it is important to start planning for the future and the opportunities these schemes can bring.

A key part of this new ‘path to sustainable farming’ is the introduction of The Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), set to begin in late 2024/early 2025.

The ELMS scheme will be designed on the core principle of ‘public money for public good’ with targets set to achieve the goals laid out in the 25-year environment plan, where farmers will be incentivised to carry out sustainable farming practices.

The scheme will consist of three core components:

  • Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) This is for managing land in an environmentally sustainable way, making it easy to identify actions that are best suited to your business. SFI is applied to features, such as hedgerows, grassland, watercourses, soil health and woodland.
  • Local Nature Recovery– which will pay for actions such as creating or restoring habitats and species management.
  • Landscape Recovery– which will focus on ecosystem recovery through large-scale projects.


DEFRA has recently published more detailed guidance on the Sustainable farming Incentive pilot scheme.

The design of the scheme has eight separate standards, all having three service levels (Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced) within them allowing growers to choose the level they wish for each standard.  The aim is that participants can develop a package of options that will suit their farming operation whilst providing environmental benefits, increasing resource use efficiency, and providing productivity gains.

The eight standards currently in this pilot are;

  • arable and horticultural land
  • arable and horticultural soils
  • farm woodland
  • hedgerows
  • improved grassland
  • improved grassland soils
  • low and no input grassland
  • water body buffering

It was perhaps a surprise to see the level of land required to be taken out of production to meet Advanced levels across a number of the standards (the Advanced Arable land standard requires 10% of land in Pollen and Nectar or Wild bird seed mixtures).  Despite this, working with our clients in the pilot scheme our real-life scenarios are showing SFI payments in excess of £1,300/Ha/annum for many when calculated purely on land removed from production.  This is significantly higher than the highest paying Countryside Stewardship options and as such looks like an attractive proposition.

A lot of the scheme requirements can be administered through our Omnia platform already to ease the administrative burden of the scheme.  The scheme itself should be simple to apply to and does contain a number of complex but interesting management options and practices.  The full guidance for each standard and service level can be viewed here:

Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


If you are in the pilot scheme or may consider an application in 2022 please do speak with one of our Environmental Services specialists.

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