A fund of £27 million to invest in productivity-boosting equipment is now open to farmers with the launch of the Farming Investment Fund.

Farmers, foresters and growers from across England are being urged to apply for grants to buy new equipment and infrastructure to help to improve efficiency as part of the government’s ambitions to ‘build back greener’.

This could include solar powered electric fences, water treatment systems that use ultraviolet light rather than chemicals and cameras for monitoring livestock.

The fund will be split across two strands. Firstly, the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund will focus on smaller grants for equipment from a set list, including electronic seeders and chemical-free disinfection systems.

Secondly, the Farming Transformation Fund will cover more substantial technology, with the potential to transform business performance. This strand will focus initially on water management with grants available to improve water use on farms for things like crop irrigation and constructing on-farm reservoirs.

“I’m pleased to offer support to eligible farmers through the new Farming Investment Fund to invest in technology and infrastructure to boost productivity and deliver environmental benefits,” said farming minister, Victoria Prentis.

“Investing in new technology and equipment on farm has a real impact on productivity and yields, as well as a benefit for the environment as we build on the historic commitments of COP 26.”

Good news

Responding to the launch of the scheme, NFU vice president Tom Bradshaw said it was good news for farmers and will play a vital role in helping them invest in their businesses, boost productivity and prepare for the future.

“With more items being made available and the maximum value increasing to £25,000 for the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund, the government has clearly recognised the benefits of investing in efficient food production.

“It’s great to see funding being made available under the Farming Transformation Fund for enabling water storage on farm, which is becoming increasingly important as we experience more frequent events of drought and flooding due to global warming.

“However, the application windows for both schemes are tight and the current disruption to supply chains, as well as the difficulty getting planning permission for building reservoirs, could lead to delays.

“It’s vital that farmers make their applications as quickly as possible and, if accepted, give themselves as much time as possible to make the necessary arrangements.”

How to apply

Eligible applicants involved in the production or processing of agricultural, horticultural or forestry products, who are based in England, can apply for a grant. Applicants are urged to make note of the differing deadlines for both strands of the fund.

The deadline for the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund is the 7 January 2022 at midday.

Applications for the Farming Transformation Fund can be made online with a new online eligibility checker to improve the application process for these grants as applicants will be able to check in advance their project suitability in relation to the scheme objectives.

Projects that score highly enough against the scheme objectives will be invited to make a full application. This will open from 16 November 2021 until the 12 January 2022, with the deadline to complete full applications by 30 June 2022.