Farming Transformation Fund

Written by John Swire from Farm Business

The launch of the Improving Farm Productivity grant, due in mid-January, will help to provide farmers with a much welcomed on-farm grant funding for investment into robotics and innovative technology. This fund is good news, as it helps farmers prepare for the phase out of BPS as they look to introduce new and innovative technology on-farm to increase profitability.

Jonathan Hird, Chartered Surveyor for H&H Land & Estates gives further details:“The aim of this new grant scheme, which stems from the former Improving Farm Productivity Grant, is to improve productivity, improve the environment, and introduce innovation to bring farms forward into the 21st century with robotic equipment.

With a minimum grant available of £35,000 and a minimum eligible spend of £87,500, it provides funding of 40% of overall eligible expenditure.

The priorities for funding are to improve efficiencies, reduce the farm’s environmental impact, improve nutrient and resource management, and the adoption of automation in areas with labour issues. The emphasis on introducing new technology on to the farm, is to help increase productivity whilst also improving the efficiency, resulting in reducing the farm’s overall environmental impact.

The actual application for support is a two-stage approach. The first stage of the process, due to open in mid-January for eight weeks only, is an online checker. This is a process which identifies whether the farm business is eligible for the grant funding. If deemed eligible, you will then be invited to complete a full application.

It is important to note that unless you have completed the online checker, you cannot submit a full application. This is an excellent opportunity for farm businesses, so anyone who is interested in applying must be aware of the short timescale and criteria to complete the online checker application before its closure in mid-March.

As part of the full application process, you are required to provide a full breakdown of project costs, along with quotes for the equipment, and cashflows of the forecasted income and productivity for the new equipment on the farm. There will be clear emphasis on the justification for the grant funding and therefore highlighting the ability that you will be able to meet the desired priorities of the scheme.

The funding is specific. It is available for robotic and innovative equipment, including robotic milking systems, robotic harvesting, robotic weeding, robotic spraying, autonomous driverless tractors, robotic feeding systems, robotic transplanting, advanced ventilation control units, and wavelength specific lighting for horticultural crops. It also provides funding for the installation of slurry acidification equipment to lower pH value of slurry to stabilise ammonia.

These applications are detailed, and as rural advisors we are there to support and assist farmers in ensuring that their applications for funding are successful. Previously here at H&H Land & Estates we have supported many farmers with their applications for milking robot equipment under a similar grant. In doing so we have secured in excess of £1m of funding, with 100% success on the milking robot grants which were applied for.”

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