The UK government has awarded up to £30 million to “cutting-edge farming projects” that will boost food production, move towards net zero, and create a more resilient and sustainable agricultural sector.
The projects include:
- Ground-breaking genetics research projects which could reduce methane emissions in cattle by 17% per generation, and produce a reliable UK-grown protein source that can replace soya in human foods.
- Investigations into the use of drones and artificial intelligence to inspect and monitor animals to enable farmers to take action should animals go missing or need attention.
- Efforts to develop biopesticides using fungal strains that help tackle pests in wheat crops, and to pin-point the genetics for creating slug resistant wheat.
Alongside the £30 million set to be awarded to more than 50 successful projects, the government has also made a further £12.5 million available to fund innovative projects helping to deliver a more productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector.
The funding is 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.
Secretary of State for Agriculture Thérèse Coffey said:
“Farmers are always forward-looking, and 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.”
“Alongside our new farming schemes, 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.”
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.”
“These grants, alongside the government’s new flexible and accessible farming schemes, will ensure that farmers remain at the heart of the rural economy and putting food on our tables.”
It follows the Farm to Fork Summit earlier in May where the government announced a package of support for the farming sector, including new measures to ensure the sector remains at the forefront of adopting new technologies and techniques. This includes substantial 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.
£12.5 million for resilience competition
With the new £12.5 million ‘On-Farm Environmental Resilience’ competition the government invites farmers and growers to apply for up to £1 million in project costs to drive the development of new technology and innovative farming methods, with a focus on practical solutions that make a real impact on farms.
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.
Details for the new competitions feasibility strand can be found online as well as details for the competition’s industrial research strand. UK registered businesses will be able to apply until Wednesday 19 July 2023.