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More farmers will be able to apply for funding to improve their productivity this year, says the government. Changes to Round Two of the... Prepare for ‘imminent’ launch of latest productivity grant

More farmers will be able to apply for funding to improve their productivity this year, says the government.

Changes to Round Two of the Improving Farm Productivity grants scheme aim to benefit a broader range of agricultural and horticultural applications, says Defra. The second round of the scheme is due to open for applications imminently, it adds.

Grants aim to improve farm and horticulture productivity by helping growers, livestock and agricultural contractors invest in robotic and automated equipment and systems which aid crop and livestock production.

Solar equipment

Farmers are also eligible to apply for grants for the installation of solar equipment to increase energy resilience and the take-up of renewable energy generation on farm – but this option is not open to contractors.

For robotic and automated equipment, Defra is reducing the minimum grant available to £25,000 and the maximum grant available remains at £500,000. The grant will cover up to 40% of the cost of eligible items.

For solar equipment, the minimum grant available is £15,000, with the maximum grant being £100,000. The grant will cover up to 25% of the cost of eligible items, with the rest of the investment coming from elsewhere.

Broader scope

The grant is part of the Farming Investment Fund. Farmers can apply for both automated and robotic equipment and solar equipment. But the total maximum grant amount for both applications together cannot exceed £500,000.

Defra says it has taken on board feedback following Round One of the scheme by decreasing the minimum grant to £25,000 and broadening the scope to fund both robotic and automated innovative equipment to aid crop and livestock production.

“Since launching Round 1, we’ve gathered valuable feedback on how we can improve the grant,” said Defra senior policy advisor Izzie Wells. “By doing this, we now hope to benefit a broader range of agricultural and horticultural applications.”

The first step to apply will be an online checker, which is expected to open in this month and run until March. This will assess eligibility and likelihood of success and will, in turn, determine whether farmers are invited to submit a full application.