This guidance explains how to apply online at the Rural Payments Service for an SFI Standards Agreement on non-common land.
We have also produced a video on how to apply online.
How to apply online video available on RPA’s YouTube channel
Prepare to apply for SFI Standards Agreement
Before starting your SFI application, read:
Starting your SFI application
To start your SFI application, sign in to the Rural Payments service using your existing sign-in details.
To create and submit an SFI application, make sure you have one of the:
- Business Details ‘Full’ permission
- BPS ‘submit’ permission
If you have BPS ‘Amendment’ permission you can also create an SFI application, but you will not be able to submit it.
You can check your permissions in ‘Allow people to act for this business’ from your ‘Business Overview’ screen.
From your ‘Business Overview’ screen, select ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive’ and then ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive Criteria’. This will take you to the ‘SFI Applications and Agreements’ screen.
Select ‘Apply to SFI’ to create your SFI application. The app may take a few moments to appear.
How to Apply for SFI
On the ‘Apply for SFI’ screen, you will see the steps you need to complete to apply for an SFI Standards Agreement. As you complete each step you will be returned to this screen and the step will show ‘Completed’.
The steps you need to complete are summarized in this table.
|Application steps||What you should do|
|Step 1: Your land||Check and confirm your land details and confirm that you have ‘Management Control’ of the land you have selected to the criteria|
|Step 2: Choose your criteria||Select the criteria(s) you wish to apply for|
|Step 3: Choose the level of actions you agree to take||Choose the level of actions in each standard and select the land parcels available for each standard|
|Step 4: Review and submit your application||Check your answers and submit your SFI application|
Step 1: Your land
Check and confirm your land details
If your land details are not up to date, this will affect which land parcels you can select for criteria in your SFI application.
You will be able to select only land parcels:
- Linked to your SBI
- Have eligible land cover for your chosen criteria – read information about eligible land covers in the SFI scheme information.
Before proceeding with your SFI application, check that the details of the land parcel(s) you enter into the standard(s) are up-to-date. Do this on your digital maps using Land Viewer.
If the land details are up to date, select ‘Yes, my land details are correct’ and then ‘Continue’.
If land details need to be updated, select ‘No, I need to update my land details’. Read information on how to update your land details. You should not proceed with your SFI application until we have confirmed that we have updated your land details.
Make sure you have management control of the land
You must have ‘management control’ of the parcels of land you select later in your SFI application to access the criteria for the 3-year term of your SFI contract. If you do not have management control, you should not include that land in your SFI application. Read information about maintenance control.
Step 2: Choose your criteria
You will see the criteria you can apply based on currently registered eligible land covers for land parcels linked to your SBI.
Select all the available criteria you wish to apply for by ticking the relevant boxes. You then select eligible land parcels for each criteria in your application.
Step 3: Choose the level of actions you agree to take
Choose the level of actions you agree to take
You must answer questions to confirm the actions you take on the land mentioned in the standard(s). This determines whether you are eligible to enter the land for the introductory or intermediate stages.
If you have selected more than one criterion, you will need to answer the questions related to actions in each criterion.
Find out about measures for:
For the two soil criteria, you must answer:
- Questions for actions in the introductory phase, then select ‘Continue’
- Additional action question at intermediate stage, then select ‘Continue’
How you answer the intermediate level question affects what levels you see when asked to select available land parcels to enter the standard. If you choose:
- ‘Yes’, you will see both Introductory and Intermediate Levels, but if you decide you don’t want to do the Intermediate Level action you can still select Introductory Level for all land parcels
- ‘No’, you will only see the introductory level
For the Moorland standard, you have to answer questions for the introductory stage.
Select available land parcels for this criteria
You will see available land parcels for the first criteria you select. Once you have selected the land parcels to enter for that criteria, you will do the same for any other criteria(s) you have selected.
How to view your available land parcels
For standard your available land parcels are grouped by relevant Ordnance Survey (OS) map sheet reference(s). These references are shown with two letters (for example, SY) and a number (for example, 6). How the OS records the mapping data.
To view land parcels, either:
- Select the OS Map Sheet reference link from the list
- Select the OS map sheet reference on the map
Then you select the land parcel and level for the standard as described below.
Once you select land parcels under an OS map sheet reference, you will be able to view and select land parcels under another OS map sheet reference.
How the available area of a land parcel is calculated
When you select a level for a land parcel, you will see its SFI ‘Available Area’. It is not equivalent to BPS eligible area.
The SFI available area for each land parcel is automatically calculated by taking its total area and deducting the following areas.
- Land cover(s) not eligible for criteria.
- Non-eligible rural stewardship income options
- Non-qualified environmental stewardship income options
- Any land already under SFI pilot agreement
If we automatically reduce any of the above areas, you will see a message immediately below the affected farm stating why the available area has been reduced.
You need to ensure that the total area available for the land parcel is the land type eligible for the criteria. For example, the entire area available for improved pasture soils quality should be improved pastures. If part of the available area is pasture improved, you cannot reduce its available area in your application so you should not select that land. Read more information on eligible land covers and land types for each criteria.
Select the level(s) in criteria for available land parcels
You can now select the level in quality of each land parcel under the relevant OS map sheet reference.
The step(s) you see will depend on the answers you gave to the previous actions in Step 3. For soil standards, if you answered ‘yes’ to the intermediate level question, you will see introductory and intermediate levels. .
To select all available land parcels for a phase, select ‘Select All’ in the box under the relevant phase.
Alternatively, you can select a level for each available land parcel. You can do this by ticking the relevant box for the next level of land parcel or select it on the map by clicking:
- Once to the introductory level
- Back to intermediate level
- Deselect it again
After you have selected the level for the available land parcels under that OS sheet reference, select ‘Add to Application’. Then you can select available land parcels and levels under another OS map sheet reference.
After you have selected all the land parcels and phase(s) for that criteria, select ‘Confirm Selection’ to see ‘Summary of your payment value for this criteria’.
Select ‘Continue’ to return to the ‘Apply to SFI’ screen. If you selected another criterion in Step 2, you now need to complete Step 3 for that criterion.
Selection of land for other criteria
If a land parcel has ‘Land Cover’ eligible for more than one criteria, you can select it for only one criteria. For example, an ‘arable’ land cover consisting of improved temporary pasture land may qualify for one:
- Quality of arable and horticultural soils
- Quality of improved pasture soils
You may have already selected this land for arable and horticultural soils quality but now decide to enter it for improved pasture soils quality. In this case, you can still select this land for improved pasture soil quality, but you will see a warning message saying that it is available but already in another standard. Instead you need to confirm that you want to select land for the quality of improved pasture soils.
Step 4: Review and submit your application
Check your answers
After completing step 3) for all the criteria you wish to apply for, you should ‘check your answers’ and if you think the information shown is correct, select ‘Continue’. This will take you back to the ‘Apply to SFI’ screen.
Submit your SFI application
Select ‘Submit your application’. Make sure you read the announcement on this screen. If you agree to it, select ‘I agree – submit my application’.
Once you submit your application, you cannot amend it. You can withdraw it and start again.
After you have submitted your application, you can view your ‘Application Summary’ PDF showing what you have applied for. You may want to print or save this application summary and keep it for your records.
We will notify you when your SFI Standards Contract Offer is available on the Rural Payments Service for you to review. You can accept or reject it. You cannot request changes to it. To find out how to accept or reject your contract offer, read the information on how to review your contract offer.