More actions and higher payment rates for ELMS in 2024

Thursday, 11 January 2024

Further information regarding Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) were announced at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference.

The key points are:

  • Up to 50 new actions will be launched in summer 2024
  • Payment rates will be increased by an average of 10% for Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreements
  • A premium will be paid for high ambition actions
  • Single application for farmers applying for SFI and CS

The new actions will be based in the following areas:

  • agroforestry
  • precision farming
  • supporting recovery of priority habitats and threatened native species
  • enhancing and restoring waterbodies and watercourses
  • protecting lowland peatland

Payment rates for actions can be found the GOV.UK website. 

The table below compares the revised payment rates with previous payment rates.

CodeAction2023 payment rate2024 payment rate


Assess soil, test soil organic matter (SOM) produce soil management plan

£5.80/ha plus £95 per agreement

£6.00/ha plus £97 per agreement


Multi-species winter cover crop




Herbal ley




Assess and record hedgerow condition

£3 per 100m – one side

£5 per 100m – one side


Manage hedgerows

£10 per 100m – one side

£13 per 100m – one side


Maintain or establish hedgerow trees

£10 per 100m – both sides

£10 per 100m – both sides


Assess integrated pest management and produce a plan

£989 per year

£1,129 per year


Flower-rich grass margins, blocks or in-field strips




Companion crop on arable land




No use of insecticide on arable crops and permanent crops




Assess nutrient management and produce a plan

£589 per year

£652 per year


Legumes on improved grassland




Legume fallow




Pollen and nectar flower mix




Winter bird food on arable and horticultural land




Grassy field corners and blocks




4m to 12m grass buffer strip on arable and horticultural land




Take improved grassland field corners or blocks out of management




Winter bird food on improved grassland




4m to 12m grass buffer strip on improved grassland




Manage grassland with very low nutrient inputs (outside SDAs)




Manage grassland with very low nutrient inputs (SDAs)



In November 2023, we looked at how stacking various SFI actions could impact the finances of farm businesses. We have updated this analysis to incorporate the revised payment rates. While the uplift in payment rates is welcome, the key message is remains that SFI alone will not mitigate the loss of Direct Payments.

Defra have also stated that a regular review of SFI actions and payment rates will be introduced from 2025 over a rolling three-year period. 

Improved offer for grassland and upland farmers

Steps have also been taken to ensure that upland farmers receive the same payment for similar actions. Actions relating to the creation or maintenance of grassland habitats have received a payment rate boost. The countryside stewardship action GS6: Management of species rich grassland, in particular has received a considerable payment rate boost with payment now £646/ha compared with £182/ha.

Further information regarding the application process, frequency of payments as well as specific information for tenant farmers, organic farmers and small farms can be found in the main release.

We will continue to analyse the impact of the SFI on farm businesses as details emerge. As mentioned above, we have factored in the payment increases into our latest analysis on stacking different SFI actions. We will update this when more data becomes available and further information is released on new actions.

Image of staff member Amandeep Kaur Purewal

Amandeep Kaur Purewal

Senior Economist

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