Financial pressures and retirement incentives have prompted a steep rise in farmland sales in the East of England, according to industry analysis.

A quarterly farmland survey by Savills shows that 4,300 acres of farmland were publicly marketed in the region within the first three months of 2024 - a 28pc rise against last year.

But average land values have changed very little compared to the end of last year, and are still sitting at just over £10,000 an acre for prime arable land, said agents.

Harry Kennedy, associate in the rural agency team at Savills in Norfolk, said factors including Defra's Lump Sum Exit Scheme, which encouraged older farmers to leave the industry, along with the continued phase-out of EU subsidies after Brexit, high costs and lower margins, had prompted some farmers to "reassess their options".

"While some are changing the way they run their farms, others are using the opportunity to leave the industry,” he said.

“Very few transactions have been completed so far this year, so overall average farmland values have changed very little from the end of last year.

“The quality of a farm’s infrastructure, however, remains a strong influence on price. Farms with good-quality buildings suited to modern agriculture are tending to attract more interest and competition.

“Similarly, the security of water supplies for irrigating specialist cropping is coming under greater scrutiny, as are the potential financial benefits landowners can receive through stewardship schemes – biodiversity net gain as an alternative land use strategy, nutrient neutrality and more active water meadow management for example – all of which offer alternative financial returns.”

Savills said an example of land coming onto the market was 45.7 acres at North Tuddenham, near Dereham, which is for sale at a guide price of £470,000. This is a combination good quality arable and grassland with a frontage onto the River Tud, which "provides opportunity for environmental, amenity and leisure interest".