Making the Sustainable Farming Incentive work for your farm: Crop production and environmental management don’t need to be competitive

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At the beginning of December the government released further detail on the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and how the widescale roll-out to all growers will work in 2022.

Before we look further into the options available to growers later in the blog, it is worth emphasising from the start that the SFI offers a real opportunity for growers to align and unify their crop production goals with their environmental goals. We know that crop and food production are central to farm decision-making but, given what we've seen of the SFI so far, it appears it will be easier to farm in a way that offers environmental benefits while supporting sustainable crop production systems - and receive financial support for doing so.

So, what do we know about the Sustainable Farming Incentive?

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Variable rate seed: The ability to adapt

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As I begin to think about variable rate seed, I can't help getting out of my head that for the past year there has been a lot of talk of change and adapting within agriculture. The more I thought about it, I concluded (probably later than many others) that agriculture has always been a case of adapting whether it be to new products, new machinery, new guidance or the ever-changing weather.

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Getting the best from your fallow

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​With more growers now getting involved with Countryside Stewardship, a key option that many are selecting is the AB15 two-year legume fallow. This option is proving to be particularly popular as growers weigh up the pros and cons of various break crops, including oilseed rape.

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Getting direction from your maps

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​As we head into another harvest, it's important to get your bearings and plan your route ahead for the next and following cropping years. The concept of 'mapping your future' isn't new to everyone, but it has grown in significance following recent announcements about the Environment Land Management (ELM) scheme and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). In fact, specific 'standards' or 'land management actions' have been highlighted as a key part of the SFI and monitoring activity and results is central to the scheme.

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Basic to broad analysis: Putting everything under the microscope to push for better yield

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"We're on a journey". That's what I say to my crop production customers when they see me take yet another set of tissue samples from the same fields that we started tissue testing over five years ago.

Over the years, I've formed a true partnership approach with my customers when it comes to crop nutrition. In the early days, soil analysis consisted of only measuring the most basic components: pH, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. In addition, tissue analysis was taken sporadically here and there throughout the season.

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