Sunday, November 19, 2017

Grants available for on-farm reservoirs and irrigation

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

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Farmers and landowners can now apply for grant funding for on-farm reservoirs and equipment to improve water resource management.

Defra has opened the Countryside Productivity Scheme, which is offering water resource management grants to arable and horticulture businesses that are growing, or are intending to grow, irrigated crops.

Funding can cover up to 40% of the eligible costs of a project, with a minimum grant of £35,000 and a maximum of £1m – providing opportunities for growers to enhance their enterprises beyond what would have been previously feasible.

Peter Bennett of Savills said: “This is welcome news as a one-off opportunity, which might be the last, to get a grant of 40% on the construction of a new reservoir. The cost has got to be over £35,000 but that is a very small bottom line figure when looking at the scale of the project.

“Planning permission has to be obtained prior to submission of the grant and this of course can take time. Our advice to those in the arable or horticultural sectors is to start getting your application ground work done now to take full advantage of the grant.”

Farmers can apply for grants to help pay for the construction of a water storage reservoir and its associated infrastructure, or for best practice application equipment, such as software, sensors and boom and trickle systems.

Strutt & Parker farm business consultant Matthew Martin said: “Other schemes will be announced later in the year which will help to fund broadband projects, rural business support, on-farm food processing, arable and horticultural productivity and resource efficiency.

Mr Martin added: “The funds that are available now are to improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation, and to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by the construction of on-farm reservoirs.”

Valuable crop

Strutt & Parker is currently liaising with a grower applying to construct a reservoir capable of supporting 40ha of potatoes. If the application is successful, it will help meet demand for water to abstract and irrigate a potentially valuable crop.

Mr Martin said: “Overall, this is a useful opportunity for land managers to consider where there are ways to better utilise the commercial value of their natural assets and increase business resilience in the face of widely fluctuating seasons.”

The scheme is competitive. Applications will be assessed to see how well they fit funding priorities – and how best they provide value for money. The closing date is 3 April 2018 but applications are advised before then.

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