Up to £30 million has been awarded to new farming projects which aim to boost UK food production sustainably, the government has confirmed.
The funding, set to be awarded to 58 projects, is part of Defra's Farming Innovation Programme, run alongside UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and Innovate UK.
Projects to benefit include FungiAlert, which seeks to develop biopesticides using fungal strains to help tackle pests in wheat and to pin-point the genetics for creating slug resistant wheat.
Others have a more sustainability focus, with Defra awarding genetics firm Genus over £2m to spearhead research to reduce methane emissions in cattle by 17% per generation.
And Synergy Farm Health has been awarded nearly £400,000 to carry out a longitudinal study with an antibody test to detect bovine TB in bulk milk.
The aim is to improve the control of bTB in dairy herds through better welfare surveillance, reducing overall costs for farms and the taxpayer.
A successful outcome would also improve productivity in farms, and better inform the steps needed to control the spread of bTB among herds.
Another 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.
It 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.
Responding to the grants, Defra Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “Innovation is key to driving forward a resilient, productive and sustainable agriculture sector that puts food on our tables whilst protecting and restoring the environment.
“These grants will help to support farmers and pave the way for a technological transformation that will help produce food sustainably for generations to come.”
The government has also today announced a new £12.5 million ‘on-farm environmental resilience’ competition.
Farmers can apply for up to £1m
Farming businesses will be able to apply until 19 July 2023.