£25m available for high tech investment on farms

A new £25 million scheme providing grants of up to £500,000 for farmers to invest in cutting edge robotics and technology, including slurry treatment equipment, robotic feeders and ventilation control systems is open. 
Farmers and growers in England can apply for grants ranging from £35,000 up to £500,000 under the Improving Farm Productivity element of the Farming Investment Fund.
While the first tranche of the scheme, the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund, focused on small grants of up to £25,000, this second tranche provides support for significant investments to boost performance across agriculture, including pig farms. 
Investments covered by the grants include new slurry management systems  that lowers the acid in slurry, which increases the nutrients for plants and reduces ammonia emissions and pollution. Options include:
  • mild acidification equipment (all projects must buy acid storage, dosing equipment, mixing tank and pump)
  • acidification infrastructure (for example, any work to adapt or install pipework, pumps etc to get slurry into the acidification system and then out to storage).

There will also be grants for various types of robotics and innovation equipment, including:

  • robotic animal welfare equipment (for example, robotic milking, robotic feeding)
  • advanced ventilation control systems for existing horticultural and livestock buildings
  • robotic horticulture and arable equipment (for example, robotic weeding, robotic harvesting)
  • wavelength-specific LED lighting for horticultural crops.

The application window opened today and will run until March 16. A total of £25m is available under the scheme, which can pay up to 40% of costs, with the remainder paid for through private sources. Grants will be paid in arrears.

One of the aims of the scheme is reducing environmental impacts. Robotic equipment utilising an electric or renewable energy source will therefore be prioritised over fossil fuel (for example diesel) powered equipment. Biofuels are considered as renewable energy under this scheme.

The Farming Investment Fund, which opened in November, is designed to increase productivity on farms. Defra is urging farmers and agricultural contractors to take advantage of this opportunity to apply for grants to buy new equipment and infrastructure to ‘improve efficiency and help us build back greener’. Further themed grants will open later this year.

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said: “These grants are aimed at contributing towards the purchase of new and green equipment that can bring a positive change to the day to day operation of a farm, as well as the wider environment.
 “This specific fund has a two-month application window, and I encourage everyone in the sector to take a look at eligibility and fund details.”
Rural Payments Agency chief executive Paul Caldwell said: “There is a wide variety of equipment and systems farmers can apply for though the Farming Investment Fund, and our new online eligibility checker is designed to make your application process even faster and easier.”

More information

Defra will host a webinar on January 24, at 10am, to explore the details of the Improving Farm Productivity theme, and will be available to answer questions.

You can register HERE  

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.