CUMBRIAN farmers are being encouraged to take part in the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot which opened on Monday.

Details of the pilot of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), which aims to reward farmers and land managers for sustainable farming practices, have been published.

Countryside watchdog, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) say this is the most 'significant' change to the agricultural policy in over 50 years and the SFI is the first of three schemes to be piloted and co-designed.

Further information on the other two schemes, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery, is set to be shared by Defra later this year.

The three schemes aim to reward farmers and land managers for producing public goods like biodiversity, cleaner water, cleaner air, improving soil, and carbon reduction on their land.

CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “For months, we’ve been calling for details of how the new Sustainable Farming Incentive will work in practice. News that hundreds of farmers will be involved in the first phase of piloting is one we fully support. The pilot is an important part of the process before the early introduction of parts of the SFI for all farmers from 2022, and we encourage eligible farmers and land managers to offer to take part.

“With the first cuts in BPS taking effect this year, and businesses set to lose at least 50% of their payments by 2024, the SFI will provide an essential funding bridge for many farmers and contribute to more environmental farming practices. This makes it even more important that the design and administration is well tested during this pilot phase to ensure it is right when introduced next year.”