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  • hammaad saghir

Government ringfences £14m for sustainable farming innovation

£14m of government funding has been set aside to promote advances in sustainable agriculture.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed that £14 million will be allocated to groundbreaking sustainable agriculture initiatives through the Farming Innovation Programme, with two new research and assessment contests being launched.

Almost £10m has been allocated in a third round of the Small R&D Partnerships competition, created in collaboration with the Transforming Food Production Challenge and managed by Innovate UK. A new Feasibility Studies competition was launched with £4.5m at stake.

The government has dedicated £600m over three years to advance agricultural innovation. This investment is meant to stimulate farmers, growers, researchers, and agri-businesses to come together and create cutting-edge solutions for sustainability, efficiency, and achieving net-zero objectives.

Past competitions have encouraged the utilization of automation to enhance soft fruit gathering, the dispersion of robots for asparagus collection, and the implementation of ultraviolet technology to disinfect dairy and poultry industries.

Recent financing has been used to investigate how to cultivate sheep with a naturally low environmental impact and initiated a plan to utilize renewable energy to operate automated collecting, sensing, and vehicle technologies.

The government declared that applications can be submitted for the Small R&D Partnerships contest starting on 14 August, while the feasibility studies contest window will be opened on 18 September.

Mark Spencer, the Minister for Farming, stated that cultivating collaboration between farmers and growers combined with research and collaboration with industry will help to progress novel ideas from the conceptual stage to actual implementation.

He commented that the success of the competition rounds held before and the multitude of ideas presented demonstrate the abundance of chances to increase productivity and confront some of the industry's most complex issues.

Since its opening in October 2021, the government's £270m Farming Innovation Programme has initiated 16 competitions, with more than £123m committed as of August 2023 to R&D in agriculture and horticulture.

Dr Katrina Hayter, executive director for the Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, expressed her enthusiasm to assist the upcoming applicants and recognize potential partnerships that could tackle the impediments related to sustainability, efficiency, and net zero for the UK's agrifood industry.

Assessing the practicality of an idea that might enhance farming is the primary process in exploring the concept. At the same time, collaborations between small research and development teams are essential for giving organizations the capability to generate original farming offerings and processes, setting the stage for successful marketing.

HeavyFinance, a climate tech investment marketplace, recently revealed that they have provided over €40m in European agricultural loans.

A total amount has been divided among 1,400 different programs, most of which are in Eastern Europe. This is a giant leap forward in the company's objective of creating 250,000 carbon credits from 100,000 hectares of agricultural land by 2024.


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