A new long-term funding programme to support farmers, growers, foresters and other businesses to embrace innovative ways to maximise productivity and drive sustainability has opened for applications.

The Farming Innovation Programme, one of the new measures set out in the Government’s Agricultural Transition Plan, will support ambitious projects to transform productivity and enhance environmental sustainability in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors, whilst aiming to drive the sectors towards net zero.

In partnership with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), Defra is today making £17.5 million available for the first round of the three funds which make up the Programme.

The first fund to open is the ‘Industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund’, where farmers, growers, foresters and businesses can bid 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 machineries to optimise 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 tackling climate change by reducing the environmental impact of farming.

Further information on Defra’s new funds is available on the UKRI websiet at https://farminginnovation.ukri.org/.