British farmers will benefit from new equipment and technology to boost sustainable food production after £31 million was this week made available in the latest round of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF).

Successful applicants can now claim for grants under the Productivity and Slurry budget to help cover the costs of over 90 pieces of equipment, from rainwater harvesting tanks to reduce water scarcity for farmers in the summer; tree shears to help stop the spread of pests and diseases; to equipment to minimise grass contamination and ammonia emissions when spreading slurry.

The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund provides funding to farming businesses so they can invest in the tools they need to improve sustainable production across agriculture, horticulture and forestry. Productivity and Slurry grants will specifically support the procurement of equipment and technology that will help farmers use fewer inputs, reduce emissions and cut waste.

With over 3,000 applications received for the FETF 2023 Productivity and Slurry grants, the government is matching this high demand by increasing the total funding offered from £17 million to £31 million. Twenty-one additional items have been added under the scheme in 2023, including camera-guided inter-row sprayers to help reduce herbicide usage, and mulchers for forestry, orchards and vineyards to help reduce input costs and improve carbon retention in the soil.

This will ensure as many farmers as possible can claim for the equipment they need to run a profitable farming business that delivers for both food production and the environment.

Secretary of State for Food and Farming Thérèse Coffey said:

The tremendous interest shown in the FETF 2023 Productivity and Slurry underscores the determination of our farmers to drive ever more productive and sustainable farming practices to keep food on our plates whilst protecting our important landscapes and habitats.

By empowering farms to invest cash in new kit, we are ensuring our farmers, growers and foresters have the equipment they need to embrace innovation, protect the environment, and contribute to a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector.

Items applied for in the FETF 2023 Productivity and Slurry budget include:

  • Direct drill with fertiliser placement for precision drilling of arable and cover crops to help reduce crop establishment costs and increase efficiency of fertiliser usage. 250 applicants to be offered this grant worth £6.25m.
  • Robotic drill and guided hoe – an autonomous robotic vehicle which can precisely place seed in the ground and return to mechanically weed – this helps to reduce herbicide usage and associated costs. Ten applications accepted with a value of £250,000.
  • Rainwater harvesting tanks with a minimum capacity of 5,000 litres which will help to reduce water scarcity for farmers in the summer months. This equipment will now benefit 86 recipients with a value of £110,802.
  • Tree shears with the capacity to fell 300mm diameter trees to stop the spread of pests and diseases across our woodlands. This funding helped 113 recipients with a total value of £363,747.
  • Dribble bars with a minimum working width of 6m designed to apply slurry to the soil surface as accurately as possible to minimise grass contamination and ammonia emissions. This equipment was made accessible to 94 farmers, amounting to a value of £403,200.
  • Direct drills with a width of 3m to conserve moisture and reduces soil erosion. This initiative assisted 129 applicants, totalling £1.555m in value.

The FETF 2023 forms part of the government’s wider manifesto commitment to invest £2.4 billion per year in farming for the rest of this Parliament. In 2023 alone, £168 million is being made available to increase farming productivity through 16 different grants and competitions themed around productivity, research and innovation.

The FETF 2023 is made up of two themes: Animal Health and Welfare, and Productivity and Slurry. The Animal Health and Welfare FETF 2023 has been given a separate portal to streamline the application process and has seen 66 new items added to its books. Applicants can still apply to the Animal Health and Welfare strand of FETF 2023 until the 15 June 2023.

The government says it intends to offer further rounds of FETF funding. Meanwhile, their larger grant offerings will support further investment in water storage and improving irrigation slurry infrastructure, as well as funding for automation and robotics.

This announcement follows the Farm to Fork Summit at Downing Street last month where the government announced a package of support for the farming sector, including new measures to ensure the sector remains at the forefront of adopting new technologies and techniques.

Source: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP

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