New £17.5m fund launched to promote sustainable farming

The government programme is looking to grow technologies and ideas that will help the sector reach net zero

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The government’s ‘Farming Innovation Programme’ has been launched, providing £17.5 million to make the UK’s agriculture and horticultural sectors more sustainable.

The funding is the first round of three funds that make up the programme and is being made available through a partnership between the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

Farmers, growers and businesses will be able to bid for the first round of funding – to develop new technologies to help them make their process more sustainable. This includes the use of AI, low carbon machinery and climate-resilient crops to stop waste.

Some of the ideas looking to win the money include fruit-scouting robots, that monitor the ripeness of fruit and optimal time for picking and the use of flies to create animal feed from farm waste and promote circular farming.

The second and third sets of funding will be launched by Defra throughout 2022, in a bid to take the country’s agricultural sector closer to net zero.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Jo Churchill, commented: “Innovation is vital to address the challenges facing the agricultural and horticultural sectors. New ideas, technologies and processes will play a key role in helping farmers, growers and businesses to become more productive.

“The Farming Innovation Programme will enable the sector to be more environmentally sustainable and resilient, whilst helping it achieve its net zero ambitions. I encourage all eligible businesses and individuals to apply.”