Farming News - Look beyond headline payments when assessing SFI options

Look beyond headline payments when assessing SFI options

Agrovista’s new Rural Consultancy national manager Hamish Wardrop is urging farmers to look beyond the headline value when choosing SFI options and to focus instead on the longer-term benefits they can help create.

“In many cases, overall levels of support will be lower than farms have been receiving under BPS,” says Hamish. “In order to extract the maximum benefit from SFI, I believe we have to fully embrace all of the actions rather than treating them as box-ticking exercises to attract an immediate payment.

“It is our job to help our customers make the most of these opportunities and ensure the best mix is chosen for their farming system, delivering positive environmental impacts whilst complementing the productivity of the farm in the longer term.”

Agrovista is in the main a technical company, focused on growing crops as successfully and profitably as possible, says Hamish. “Agricultural policy has evolved and is now very much tied in with production, so it makes sense to maintain this technical approach when choosing SFI actions.”

The Rural Consultancy team works closely with their agronomist colleagues to achieve this, he adds. “Farmers don’t want something out of a textbook when seeking advice. They want to know what will work for them in practice and how to implement those options on the ground.

“Our agronomists have a very good understanding of their farmers’ businesses and can draw on years of cropping information, including mapping and yield data.

“This provides much of the information we need to decide together which options are most suitable. It’s a very efficient and cost-effective way of implementing these schemes as seamlessly as possible.”

Hamish brings a wealth of practical farming experience and farm business consultancy knowledge to his new role.

He comes from a Hampshire-based farming family. He obtained a degree in agriculture from Reading University and has a master’s degree in land management.

He qualified as a surveyor in 2005 and worked in private practice until he started his own farm contracting and consultancy business in 2009, before joining Agrovista’s agronomy team in 2022.

In his new role Hamish will oversee Agrovista Rural Consultancy’s expanding team to help meet increasing demand as changes in agricultural policy gather pace. Key areas include Countryside Stewardship, Environmental Land Management, nutrient planning and compliance with crop assurance.