Defra has announced that there will be limits to the amount of land businesses are able to put into the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme.

Businesses will only be able to put 25% of their land into the six land sparing SFI actions, those actions taking land out of food production.

This new development demonstrates recognition that food production remains an integral part of the SFI scheme alongside sustainability and environmental protection.

The actions affected by the new 25% upper limit are:

- Flower-rich grass margins

- Pollen and nectar flower mix

- Winter bird food on arable and horticultural land

- Grassy field corners and blocks

- Improved grassland field corners or blocks out of management

- Winter bird food on improved grassland

Defra says that the six actions will continue to play an important role in supporting sustainable food production but were always intended to be implemented on smaller areas of the farm.

This year has seen continued adverse weather conditions that have influenced cropping decisions, as discussed in the recently published re-run of the Early Bird Survey. This has prompted discussions about whether farmland could be taken out of production and capitalise on high paying agri-environment actions instead.