Farmers considering upgrading large items of equipment are being urged to take advantage of government grants worth up to £1m before the scheme closes at the start of next month.
The deadline for the Countryside Productivity Scheme, which contributes up to 40% of the retail cost for new robotic or slurry management equipment, closes on 3 December, according to the Farm Consultancy Group.
Eligible items include slurry management systems, either a new tanker, dribble bar, silage bags or separator, as well as robotic milking parlours and robotic feeders.
Improving Farm Productivity grants – application tips
- Make a thorough job of completing the forms.
- Some types of grant require an initial expression of interest to be made before the go-ahead is given for a full application. Improving Farm Productivity (IFP) grants need only a full application.
- Make a robust case for the direct benefits to the business as well as any indirect benefits to others.
- The application must include a written form, a cashflow budget spreadsheet and quotes. Project outputs must also be listed.
- Make a clear case – show how the benefits have been calculated. For example, how have you calculated the creation of a new job and how will this affect your wage bill? If you believe the project will increase turnover, you must show how this has been calculated. Be realistic.
- Take advantage of advice from the RPA.
- Research carefully and allow plenty of time. Pulling together the information needed can take longer than expected.
- Three separate quotes will be needed for everything.
- Letters of support from established customers will help where relevant.
- These grants must give value for money – demonstrate that your application meets the scheme objectives and explain why funding is needed.
- If planning permission is needed, this must have been approved before submitting a full application.
- If you are a tenant you must declare this in your application and prove that your tenancy has at least six years to run.
- Demonstrate your ability to fund the non-grant element of the project (funding is normally at 40%), including evidence of any loan agreement/overdraft facility.
Robotic equipment criteria
Robotic equipment will be eligible for grant funding if it contains a sensing system that measures physical and biological properties of the agricultural system, as well as having decision-making technology and actuators to manipulate the robotic system.
Slurry equipment criteria
This includes items such as precision application equipment – trailing shoes, dribble bars and deep/shallow injections, slurry umbilical systems, slurry tankers, slurry storage bags and digestate processing equipment.
A decision should be received within 60 days of the application and the Farm Consultancy Group advises starting the process as early as possible to give the best chance of success.