SAM3 Herbal Leys – What You Need to Know

With each Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme designed to provide different benefits to the land or the habitat, it can be a little hard to keep up.

One scheme that has been discussed with regularity recently is SAM3 Herbal Leys. This falls under the wider banner of ‘SFI actions for soil’.

These are actions specifically designed to help with the long-term productivity and resilience of the soil, in turn helping to benefit food production. They can also provide environmental benefits like better water quality and increased biodiversity.


SAM3 Herbal Leys. A Livestock Farmers Option.

Unlike some of the other SFI schemes that mean taking land out of production, SAM3 is a lot more flexible. Ultimately, it means livestock farmers can still farm pretty much as they were. And, in our opinion, it is a good scheme for new entries.

Livestock farms, where grazing is essential, can make good use of SAM3 Herbal Leys. The scheme allows farmers to either put new leys in or over seed existing grass with a herbal ley mix – either will be compliant.

SAM3 is also considerably more flexible than its CSS sister scheme GS4, which can be very strict and regimented in terms of when it can be grazed.

The key benefit of SAM3 is that, once established, it can be grazed or cut whenever the farmer desires. Once cut it can be used or sold as forage, resulting in further income or savings depending on how it is used.

The legumes in the herbal ley mix will boost soil structure and fertility. So, it taken out after three years, the land should be more fertile for whatever follows. So, it works very well in a rotation.


SAM3 Herbal Leys Important Information

Entering the SAM3 Herbal Leys scheme will generate an income on £382 per hectare per year. With the overall aim of the action to provide varied root structure in order to help improve and maintain soil structure, biology, fertility and carbon.

The land eligible for the scheme is arable land, including temporary grassland, as well as improved permanent grassland.

SAM3 is a rotational action, so you can do this on the same area of eligible land each year of the 3-year SFI agreement or you can move the area each year. Again, providing more flexibility.


You must not enter any area within a land parcel into this action that:

  • is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), because herbal leys are not appropriate for these settings and can cause significant damage
  • contains historic or archaeological features identified in your SFI HEFER – read the information about historic and archaeological features, including scheduled monuments to find out more about the SFI HEFER.

You should also not enter any area of land into this action that has peaty soil because this action could damage peat. Peaty soil means there’s around 20% or more organic matter to a depth of 40cm or more.


What to do –

  • Establish and maintain herbal leys with a mixture of grasses, legumes and herbs
  • You can maintain an existing herbal ley to meet this action, only if it is not already being paid for under another ELMs option.


When to do it

If you’re doing this action on the same area of land for the 3-year duration of your SFI agreement, then:

  • establish the herbal leys within the first 12 months of your SFI agreement
  • maintain the area of herbal leys in each subsequent year of your SFI agreement

If you’re rotating this action around your farm, each year of your SFI agreement you must do it for a period of time that could reasonably be expected to achieve this action’s aim.


We’re here to help!

We advise that when undertaking any SFI or stewardship scheme that some form of evidence should be kept helping prove what you have done to complete the scheme or action.

As mentioned, SAM3 Herbal Leys is good scheme for those who have not entered something before, and can be particularly beneficial to for livestock farmers with grazing requirements.


For any assistance or advise on entering SAM3 Herbal Leys or any other SFI schemes, please get in touch and we can help you select the right mixtures.