Grants available to cover up to 50% of cost for wide range of kit

Farm businesses in England can apply for further grant aid to invest in solar panels, robotics or automated equipment on-farm.

A new round of funding through Defra’s Improving Farm Productivity (IFP) grant opened on 25 January, worth £30m and offering between £25,000 and £500,000 for robotic and automated equipment and covering up to 50% of the total cost.

Grants of up to £100,000 are on offer for on-farm solar projects, covering 25% of the total project cost.

The funding is to aid crop and livestock production and increase renewable energy generation on farm, as well as improving energy resilience.

Improving Farm Productivity grant

  • IFP must be used as standalone funding
  • Under the scheme rules, no other public money, such as grant funding from local authorities, can be used towards the project costs. Nor can the IFP grant be used to carry out capital works that are a requirement of other agreements

Eligible items include robotic or automatic kit and systems to aid both crop and livestock production, wavelength specific LED lighting for horticultural crops, advanced ventilation control units and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Projects will be prioritised for funding based on how they will improve productivity by:

  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of primary agricultural or horticultural production
  • Reducing a farm’s environmental impact, resulting in a positive contribution to net zero and greenhouse gases (GHG) reduction
  • Introducing technical innovation to optimise livestock production and field operations
  • Using automation in areas where access to labour is an issue.

The funding is open to farming and horticultural businesses, with contractors also able to apply for all but the solar PV grants.

The support is the second round of the IFP grant, part of Defra’s larger Farming Investment Fund.

It offers more support than the first round, which paid for up to 40% of the costs for robotic and automated equipment.

How and when to apply

There is a two-stage application process for the Improving Farm Productivity (IFP) grant.

Stage one is an online checker for eligibility. This has opened and will be available until 21 March.

Eligible applicants will then be invited to submit a full application. This must be done by 30 June 2025. This timeframe is designed to allow long enough for applicants to secure planning permission.

Grants of between £25,000 and £500,000 are on offer for each applicant business looking to invest in robotic or automatic equipment.

Solar PV system grants under this round will be worth from £15,000 to £100,000 for each applicant business and can only be installed on farm building rooftops or irrigation reservoirs.

Where a business applies for both automated and solar equipment, the total grant funding amount cannot exceed £500,000.

Robotic and automatic technology harvesting technology includes:

  • Weeding technology
  • Robotic spraying technology
  • Driverless tractors or platforms
  • Transplanting technology
  • Voluntary robotic milking systems
  • Feeding robots
  • Slurry robots.

Other robotic or automatic technology not included in this list will also be considered. 

More detailed productivity grant guidance is available on the government website.