Improving Farm Productivity grants now open for applications


This week, DEFRA have announced the opening of the application window for the Improving Farm Productivity element of the Farming Transformation Fund.


Guidance for the grant was explained in our post last month, but to recap:


How much funding is available?


The grants will pay at a rate of 40% towards eligible costs, with a minimum grant of £35,000 (minimum total spend of £87,500) and a maximum grant of £500,000.


What items will this grant fund?


DEFRA have released examples of equipment that will be funded through this theme for both robotics and slurry acidification equipment.


Robotics:

• robotic harvesting equipment

• robotic weeding equipment

• robotic spraying equipment

• autonomous driverless tractors or platforms

• voluntary robotic milking system

• robotic feeding systems

• robotic transplanting

• advanced ventilation control units

• wavelength specific LED lighting for horticultural crops


Additional robotic items will be considered, as long as it has a sensing system, the ability to understand its environment, decision making capability to plan, and control actuators.


Slurry Acidification:


Slurry Acidification projects will include systems that lower the pH value of slurry using acid treatment to stabilise the ammonia, thereby increasing the availability of nutrients for plants, and reducing ammonia emissions.


For a system to be eligible the following 4 items need to be present:

• acid storage

• dosing equipment

• mixing tank

• pump.


The costs of installation and commissioning the above equipment is also fundable through the scheme. It is also possible to stack the slurry acidification project with shallow injectors, trailing shoes, dribble bars or the real-time analysis of slurry.


The next steps


The eligibility checker is now open for farmers to see how their projects score against DEFRA’s targets, this checker will remain open until the 16th of March.


Questions include information regarding the total cost of the project (and the items you wish to purchase), which sectors of agriculture this grant will benefit (i.e., dairy vs arable) and also how the equipment will be powered (Mains/biofuel/renewable energy).


For example, in order for a voluntary robotic milker project to score highly against DEFRA’s targets, the units need to be powered by electricity produced from the farm itself and also the ability for this power to be stored in a battery. Unfortunately, such renewable energy systems are not available through this grant. However, upgrading of existing electricity supplies to the holding is eligible, providing this cost doesn’t add up to over 10% of the project total. For example, if a project requires an additional 100 Kw of electrical supply and the new supply is 200 Kw, only half of the cost will be eligible. There needs to be clear detailed evidence of the power requirement of the project in the full application. So, these costs need to be factored in carefully to applications and careful consideration is needed when answering the eligibility questions


The grant does not fund the construction of any new buildings or conversion of existing buildings, the funding available is only for the equipment itself.


To find the eligibility checker, please follow this link: https://check-farming-transformation-fund.defra.gov.uk/productivity/start


After answering the eligibility questions?


You are able to answer the questions as many times as you wish, once happy with your answers, you add your business details and submit your answers to the RPA to request the full application form. The RPA will score your application, based on your answers given and the total quantity of applications received, a decision will then be made to award application forms to a certain number of projects which score highly against the criteria.


For further advice, or for help with an application – please get in touch with your usual consultant.


Sam Kelly 07777 696080 sam@kellyfarmconsulting.com

Charlie Davies 07904 601104 charlie@kellyfarmconsulting.com

Pete Kelly 07970 942668 pete@kellyfarmconsulting.com

Office 01454 614624