Farmers can still get useful amounts of funding for machinery designed to make farms more energy efficient and reduce the danger of pollution from slurry or fertiliser. But you’ll need to act quickly as some schemes are nearing their closing dates.
Finding out whether or not you are eligible for a grant can be tricky. The grants are mostly administered by Regional Development Agencies and each body tends to work in a slightly different way.
Even when you’ve found a grant you might be eligible for, the closing date may have passed. But don’t give up – many RDAs have several rounds of funding and once you’ve spoken to the body responsible, you’ll know what support there is.
If you farm in the Yorkshire and Humberside area, for instance, you can apply for up to 50% or 60% of costs (equating to between £1500 and £25,000) as part of the Farm Resource Efficiency Programme (FREP), a Rural Development Programme for England initiative jointly funded by DEFRA and the EU.
Seven different energy-saving pieces of kit can be purchased with the funding – milk cooler heat capture units, inverters for electric motors, heat exchangers, rainwater harvesting, slurry or silage store roofs (as part of a wider rainwater harvesting project) slurry separators and slurry distribution machinery.
Margy Hall, who has a 500-cow dairy farm near Huddersfield, received £9520 towards the purchase of a trailing shoe slurry applicator and heat-capture unit in 2009. “Since installing the heat capture unit, we have saved £2000 a year on our electricity bill. The trailing shoe has not only saved us money on fertiliser, but means we can spread slurry in the summer to make better use of nutrients.”
Applications can be made through FREP by contacting CO2 Sense (0113 237 8461).
In the East Midlands, a proportion of the RDPE budget has been ring-fenced for livestock farmers. Projects will still need to fall within the overall themes (outlined on the website), but there should be a greater chance of success with applications from livestock businesses.
Applications have to deliver against one of three objectives – improving the competitiveness of livestock enterprises, addressing nutrient management issues and improving animal health and welfare.
For farmers in the South West, the South West Agricultural Resource Management (SWARM) is a similar grant scheme. Farmers can access the funds following an advisory visit under either the Resource Efficiency for Farmers (R4F) or Soils for Profit (S4P) projects. To attract grant aid, the equipment has to be in the list of kit identified as priorities in the relevant action plan.
Similar schemes exist across most of the UK and it’s certainly worth contacting your local RDA. However, the organisations involved stress that funds can get used up quickly so farmers need to move fast.