SFI 2023 “SNIPPET 5”

SAM3 (Herbal leys - £382/ha) vs NUM2 (Legumes on improved grassland - £102/ha)

These two options may be suitable for farmers looking to add diversity to grass swards. If you're thinking of re-seeding soon, consider the below options first when deciding on a seed mix.

NUM2 offers a simple option, as farmers only need to add one or more legume (e.g. red clover, white clover, lucerne or sainfoin), either established through a new ley, or by adding legume/s to an existing grass sward. NUM2 can also be applied on existing grass/clover leys on the farm.

SAM3 is asking for a much more diverse herbal ley mix including several species of grass, legumes and herbs - see Create and maintain herbal leys - Farming (blog.gov.uk) for what Defra expect this action to achieve. Farmers need to choose the herbal ley mix wisely, to ensure species suit their soil type and expected future management (i.e., cutting / grazing). These seed mixes can be expensive and seed rates of 15-20 kg / acre are advised. Herbal leys are often best managed through rotational grazing systems, as not all species suit set-stocking and occasional cutting for hay/silage.  It is best to try a small area of herbal ley initially, to see which species suit the farm through trial and error. Under SFI23, action areas such as SAM3 can be increased in the second year of the agreement where the action has worked well on the farm and farmers want to do more.

Where herbal leys are being sown this year, and these achieve the aims of SAM3, these can also be included in a future SFI23 application. Lots of good information is available at:
Herbal leys | AHDB

Herbal Leys | Cotswold Grass Seeds (cotswoldseeds.com)

Herbal Leys 'How To' Guide (soilassociation.org)
Advice on establishing and grazing herbal leys - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)