Saturday, October 19, 2019

£15m farm grant scheme opens – with easy application process

August 1, 2019 by  
Filed under News & Business

A £15m scheme is offering grants of up to £12,000 to support farmers who want to invest in new and innovative technology.

But growers and livestock producers must move quickly because the deadline closes on 3 September. It follows Defra’s decision to re-open the Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme for a second round of applications.

Applicants must choose from a list of arable and livestock items identified as products that the government believes will help farmers achieve improvements in animal welfare, resource efficiency, nutrient management or technical efficiency.

Real improvements

Now former Defra minister Robert Goodwill said: “The small grants scheme proved to be so popular in the first round because it gives farmers access to equipment that can deliver quick and tangible improvements.”

He added: “This isn’t just about increasing yields – it’s also about using the best tools and equipment that can improve animal welfare and the environment, such as monitoring the levels of nitrogen in crops.”

Arable items include precision-farming equipment – including GPS units, yield-mapping devices, variable rate controllers and direct drills. Livestock products include handling systems, crushes, calving detectors, weighing equipment, calf feeders, pasture plate meters and slurry applicators.

Some 26 new items have been added to the list – including nitrogen-measuring devices for calculating fertiliser applications, cover crop rollers, a portable ammonia analyser, vaccination gun, robotic slurry pusher, cameras for monitoring livestock and EID panel readers.

Encouraging investment

Strutt & Parker farm consultant Sebastian Murray said: “The Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme is designed to encourage investment in equipment that will help farmers to make their business more resilient and environmentally sustainable.”

The scheme was a valuable opportunity at a time when the government had made it clear it expects farmers to become more self-reliant and – at the same time – reduce agriculture’s environmental impact on water, soil and air quality, added Mr Murray.

The scheme is expected to be popular because it has a straightforward online application process. Potential applicants are advised to talk to equipment manufacturers immediately to get a sense of lead-in times and payment terms.

Application process

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said farmers had been waiting for months to open – which meant there was likely to be a flurry of applications. He added: “This scheme has always been popular and is likely to be once again.

“That’s why it is important for farmers who are applying to read the guidance carefully – from end to end. Understanding how it works and getting up to speed with the detail at the initial application phase will help avoid delays and disappointment later.”

Defra has said applications will be scored against the criteria set out in the guidance notes and it aims to make grant offers by the end of September. The final claim will need to be supported by photos of the equipment in situ and operational.

For details, visit www.bit.ly/ProductivityGrants

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