Skip to main content
Harper Adams University logo


    AHDB Sustainable Farming Incentive Project


    The aim of this project is to assess the awareness of farmers of the key factors relating to the proposed changes in UK farm policy, and to assess and inform the extent to which farmers and growers are adapting their farming businesses to the changes in UK agricultural and environmental policy.


    The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a levy funded, independent organisation which plays a pivotal role in improving farm business efficiency and competitiveness. Under the new English agricultural policy, direct payments will be phased out from 2021 until 2027 with no direct payments from 2028 onwards. The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will aim to reward farmers for meeting objectives that benefit the environment and the first pilot of this scheme is due to begin in October 2021. The SFI has been developed following a set of ‘tests and trials’ which started in 2018. AHDB has a responsibility to get farmers and growers ready for the impending policy change and help them not only survive but thrive.

    The objectives of the project are to:

    • explore the key factors perceived by farmers which will affect their businesses
    • assess whether or not farmers have taken any measures informed by the proposed changes to plan for the future
    • identify the impact of participation in Environmental Land Management (ELM) test and trials have on farm business finances, including the costs and benefits
    • identify how farmers expect the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will impact on their farm business finances, what are the expected costs and benefits of SFI, and how SFI could be improved
    • explore similarities and differences in attitudes of different types of farmers/growers

    Research Methodology

    Qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews will be conducted with farmers representative of the five production sectors (i.e. beef, sheep, pork, dairy, cereals and oilseeds) across a range of farm sizes, geographical locations and land types. Thematic content analysis will be undertaken for qualitative information in relation to attitudes and plans. This will be supplemented with a relevant cash flow analysis based on financial information that is collected. These will then lead to fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) on factors affecting farmers' decision making. They will enable us to develop a typology of different groups of farmers so that more targeted support can be provided to each group and the outcomes can be more easily applied to AHDB’s modelled typical farms.

    Funding Body

    Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board

    Lead Organisation

    Harper Adams University


    Click the file name to download the project file:

    • AHDB Horizon - Assessing the impact of the Sustainable Farming Incentive on farm businesses

    Cookies on the Harper Adams University website

    We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.