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New ‘On-Farm Resilience’ competition launched

Agri-TechE Article

Fifty projects funded through the Government’s Farming Innovation Programme have been announced today (31st May 2023).

On-Farm Environmental Resilience competition 

A new £12.5 million ‘On-Farm Environmental Resilience’ competition has been launched that will see farmers and growers apply for up to £1 million in project costs.   

Projects could find new ways to detect pests and prevent and manage disease; help farmers to reduce their fertiliser use; boost soil resilience; and manage threats from extreme weather and flooding. Projects researching how gene editing and methods including regenerative cropping could boost productivity and crop resilience are also encouraged to apply. More information.

Fifty more projects gain funding through Farming Innovation Programme 

The funding is all part of the Farming Innovation Programme, run in partnership with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and delivered by Innovate UK, which is making £270 million in grants available before the end of the agricultural transition to fund research and development projects to help farmers and growers produce food more sustainably.    

Katrina Hayter, Executive Director Healthy Living and Agriculture of Innovate UK, said:    

“The competitions once again demonstrate the sheer breadth and quality of innovation within the UK agri-food space.   

“We’re proud to be able to help deliver these funding and partnership opportunities to the sector, bringing together farmers, growers, technologists and researchers in a common aim of making the UK food system more sustainable and resilient.    

“Whether improving existing production or introducing novel foods and techniques, the winners have all risen to the innovation challenge and we look forward to supporting their development further.”  

Winners were announced for the following strands of the Farming Innovation Programme Climate Smart Funding, Sustainable Farm-Based Protein, Feasibility Round 2 and Research Starter Round 2. 

Climate Smart Funding  

Aganalyst is developing a Framework for improving Nitrogen efficiency (FINE). This management tool aims to support better fertiliser utilisation and reporting by using remote sensing, sensors and soil measurement. (£2,805,642 in Gov funding).  

The Genus genetic breeding project aims to capture insights gained from ground-breaking research that shows the potential of microbiome-driven breeding to mitigate methane emissions. The target is to reduce methane production by 17% and increase feed conversion ratio by up to 15% per generation. (£2,088,660 in Gov funding).  

Sustainable farm-based protein

This includes livestock, plants, bioeconomy and novel animal feed production systems. 

Feasibility strand – sustainable control method project run by Crop Health and Protection.  This project for legume farmers. It will identify new products to stimulate plant growth, increase tolerance to climatic stress, and help manage pests and diseases based on natural products and living microorganisms. (£362,960 in Gov funding)   

Industrial research strand NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) Cicero: developing chickpea as a novel source of domestic UK protein(£406,933)

Industrial research strand  –  MI:RNA’s Johne’s disease identification project. This project will combine a unique biomarker testing technology with AI to help detect early-stage Johne’s disease, which leads to a significant reduction in milk yields and weight loss, as well as increasing the greenhouse gas production from affected animals. The project aims to further develop this technology to increase productivity, mitigate economic losses from the disease, and assist in achieving a sustainable, carbon-neutral dairy business model. (£395,850 in Gov funding)  

Industrial research strand – PeaProtein project run by Openfolde Ltd. The project aims to have a significant impact on reducing the need for UK imports of soya. As well as delivering environmental sustainability, the project will provide new economic opportunities for farmers to replace soya with a home grown alternatives. 

Feasibility Round 2  

Industry-Led R&D Partnerships Fund with a share of up to £5.5million.    

Agrisound Limited BioNet: novel approach to enable comprehensive environmental monitoring for English fruit growers( £152,807)

Synergy Farm Health’s bovine TB antibody testing. The project will carry out a longitudinal study with an antibody test to detect bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in bulk milk. (£385,348 in Gov funding)  

FungiAlert’s biopesticide for wheat crops – aims to identify fungal strains that can help fight against both insect and fungal pests in wheat crops, and builds on the previous development of a dual-action biofungicide and bioinsecticide solution for UK cereal farmers. (£224,194  in Gov funding)  

Research Starter Round 2    

Farmers, growers and foresters identify early-stage solutions to key food production issues.  

Passmore Brothers winter wheat project – looks at precision planting of wheat seeds, aiming to improve light capture and yield, while reducing disease and plant competition pressures. The project will consider the potential for seed-planting robot development if initial tests prove successful. (£30,298 in Gov funding) 

TC and D Willoughby’s automated dairy cubicle cleaner – this project will investigate a novel technical solution to automate the cleaning of dairy cow cubicles. (£47,848 in Gov funding) 

Farm to Fork Summit

The government held a Farm to Fork Summit earlier this month (May 2023) where it announced investment to unlock the potential of precision breeding following royal assent for the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act, and a working group to bring plant breeders, food manufacturers and retailers together to agree an approach that enables these products to reach our shelves. 

More information

Find the full list of winning projects here.

Details for the new competition’s feasibility strand can be found here and details for the competition’s industrial research strand can be found here. UK registered businesses will be able to apply until Wednesday 19 July 2023.