A new £17.5m fund to support farmers to embrace innovative new ways to maximise productivity and drive sustainability has opened for applications today.
The Farming Innovation Programme will support on-farm projects to boost productivity and environmental sustainability whilst driving the sector toward net zero.
Defra has opened the programme for applications on Wednesday (20 October), making £17.5m available for the first round, the 'Industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund'.
For this round, farmers can bid for funding to develop new technologies and practices, such as artificial intelligence, low-emission machineries and climate-resilient crops.
Early next year, the ‘Farming Futures R&D Fund’ will be launched for projects aimed at tackling climate change by reducing the environmental impact of farming.
The third of the funds, called ‘Projects to Accelerate Adoption Fund’, will launch later in 2022 to support projects to trial the viability of new innovations on-farm.
Announcing the new programme, Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Jo Churchill, said innovation was vital to address the challenges facing the farming sector.
"New ideas, technologies and processes will play a key role in helping farmers, growers and businesses to become more productive," he said.
“The Farming Innovation Programme will enable the sector to be more environmentally sustainable and resilient, whilst helping it achieve its net zero ambitions."
Three of the four competitions within the first round - the Industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund - open to applications today (20 October).
The competitions will be open to applications for 5-6 weeks, Defra explained, with the fourth to be rolled out in early 2022.
Defra has made £17.5 million available for the first round in partnership with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI).
UKRI Challenge Director, Katrina Hayter, said: “As the UK gets ready to host COP26, it is timely that we can unveil projects in the vital area of agriculture that will help meet our net zero goals.
“Working closely with farmers in the innovation process means that pressing challenges are identified."