UK launches £ 17.5million agricultural innovation program

A new long-term funding program to help farmers, producers, foresters and other businesses adopt innovative ways to maximize productivity and foster sustainability has opened for applications.

The Agricultural Innovation Program, one of the new measures planned in the Agricultural transition plan, will support ambitious projects aimed at transforming productivity and improving environmental sustainability in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors, while bringing the sectors to net zero.

In partnership with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), Defra is making £ 17.5 million available for the first round of the three funds that make up the program. The first fund to be opened is the “Industry-Led R&D Partnership Fund”, where farmers, producers, foresters and businesses can apply for funding to develop new technologies and practices that will help them overcome challenges and exploit new opportunities in the sector, such as the use of artificial intelligence and low-emission machinery to optimize the production process and the development of climate-resilient crops.

Early next year, Defra will launch the Farming Futures R&D Fund, for strategic projects aimed at fighting climate change by reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. The third of the funds, called the Projects to Accelerate Adoption Fund, will be launched later in 2022 to support farmer-led projects to test the viability of new innovations on the farm.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Jo Churchill said:

“Innovation is vital to meeting the challenges facing the agricultural and horticultural sectors. New ideas, technologies and processes will play a key role in helping farmers, producers and businesses become more productive.

“The agricultural innovation agenda will enable the sector to be more sustainable and environmentally resilient, while helping it achieve its net zero ambitions. I encourage all eligible businesses and individuals to apply. “

The Agriculture Innovation Program extends Defra’s partnership with UKRI for the recent Farming Innovation Pathways competition, which saw huge demand from the sector and attracted many high-quality applications to innovate in the horticulture and agriculture industry, when it launched earlier this year.

Defra announced the new projects which have won a share of the £ 14.5million funding from Farming Innovation Pathways. The winning projects will help help businesses and researchers transform food production, meet growing demand for UK food products and help the sector move towards net zero emissions.

UKRI Challenge Director for the TFP Challenge, Katrina Hayter, said:

“As the UK prepares to host COP26 in November, it is time we can unveil so many great projects in the vital area of ​​agriculture that will help us meet our net zero goals.

“Working closely with farmers in the innovation process means that urgent challenges are identified. Solving these challenges will maximize productivity, reduce emissions and make our farms more resilient and sustainable. “

More information on the new Defra funds is available on the website Agriculture of the future blog and at UKRI dedicated webpage.

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