A £7.5m scheme has opened in Northern Ireland for farmers to purchase machinery and equipment as part of a measure to improve on-farm efficiencies.
The third tranche of Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme - Capital (FBIS-C) will open for applications on 2 November.
£7.5m has been allocated for this tranche of Tier 1, which supports smaller scale investments to improve the sustainability of farm businesses.
The DAERA scheme will support the purchase of equipment and machinery, costing from £5,000 to £30,000, from a list of eligible items.
Agriculture minister Edwin Poots said: “In what has been a very challenging year for our farmers, this third tranche is a timely boost for agriculture and horticulture with £7.5m allocated for projects.
“This will build upon the success of the previous two tranches of Tier 1, which provided £14.4million grant support to over 3,000 farmers and growers.”
Mr Poots encouraged farm businesses to invest in Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment (LESSE) through the FBIS.
He said: “Bearing in the mind the deadlines within the Nutrient Action Programme 2019-22 and the issues posed by localised ammonia emissions, I want to encourage the early uptake of Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment (LESSE).
“For that reason, LESSE items, such as trailing hose, trailing shoe, soil incorporation or soil injection methods, will be contained within their own item banding, and allocated the highest item score.”
The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) said the scheme would have a positive knock-on effect on the agriculture industry and the environment and wider rural economy.
UFU deputy president David Brown said: “We advise farmers to carefully consider the options available and to only apply for what they need and what they can commit to financially without putting themselves under extra pressure.
"The application process requires preparation and Covid-19 has created extra challenges in terms of gathering the paperwork to coincide with the application.
"It is vital that our farmers set time aside to complete their application so that they can meet the deadline.”
A date has not yet been confirmed for opening a second tranche of Tier 2 of FBIS-Capital, which is designed to offer support to projects costing more than £30,000.