The government has announced (30th November 2020) the launch of a Farming Investment Fund to support innovation and productivity. This will be in the form of grants for farmers to invest in equipment, technology and infrastructure with the potential to transform business performance.
Agri-TechE director Dr Belinda Clarke welcomes support for farmers that will encourage adoption of new technologies, she comments:
“The proposed new Farming Investment Fund, we hope, will help de-risk the investment in new technologies which we see is often a barrier to uptake by farmers. Key to its success will be ease of access and the type of impact metrics which will be sought by Defra to establish the success of the scheme.
“We hope the outcomes will be assessed by meaningful metrics which are relevant to farmers, as well as relatively simple to capture”
The type of eligible investments may include: –
- on-farm water storage infrastructure
- robotic or automated technology
- technology to improve animal health and welfare
- equipment for processing agricultural products, which may help farmers to streamline or diversify their businesses.
This funding is in addition to an increased investment in a programme of farmer-led R&D projects to trial and demonstrate viability of new and existing technologies. These technologies will be selected to address immediate on-farm productivity challenges as well as research into how agriculture can meet its longer term goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net zero.
Example projects could be trialling new feed additives or demonstrating the integration of autonomous farm machinery.
The fund was announced as part of a package of measures to support the transition from the Basic Payment Scheme towards the new Environmental Land Management scheme which is designed to incentivise sustainable farming practices.