£20m farm productivity and sustainability funding announced

Up to £20m of government funding is up for grabs for businesses to develop systems or equipment which improve productivity and sustainability in agriculture systems.

UK farmers and growers can apply for a share of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for projects aiming to transform how the agrifood sector works with crop and animal-based agricultural systems.

Projects need to tackle research questions and make a case for receiving public investment.

See also: 3 high-tech solutions coming to improve UK farm productivity

This is the first instalment of a total £90m fund for revolutionising food production and reducing its environmental impact, which aims to bring the agrifood sector together with robotics, satellite, data and digital technologies, and artificial intelligence.

Agritech solutions

The £20m will be shared across two types of project: productivity solutions, which develop supply chains or production systems; and supply chain solutions, which develop multiple changes or improvements across at least three parts of the supply chain, for example, beef producers, beef processors and supermarket retailers.

There should be a clear vision about the route to market and it should have an impact on the whole industry, such as creating a data-driven robotic system based on artificial intelligence to improve productivity in multiple crop or livestock environments.

In previous agrifood schemes, farmers have been involved in projects as part of a co-operative or supply chain group, such as Berry Gardens Growers, the Texel Sheep Society and the AHDB.

Project guidelines

Projects with total costs of under £100,000 can be single or collaborative but must be led by a UK-based small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), and costs of £100,000 or more must be collaborative and involve an SME.

An SME is defined as employing fewer than 250 people and having an annual turnover not exceeding €50m (£44m), and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43m (£38m).

Total project costs can be up to £2m for productivity solutions projects or up to £5m for supply chain solutions projects, and up to 70% of costs could be funded.

Applications open on Monday (20 August) and the deadline is midday on 24 October 2018.

The work must start by April 2019 and can last up to 36 months.

For more information visit the gov.uk website