Two new opportunities for farmers to apply for Defra funding for innovative practices will open later this month.
Announced last year, the Farming Innovation Programme is the umbrella scheme which hosts the Research and Development Partnerships Fund and the Farming Futures Research and Development Fund – both of which open on 22 March.
While they may have similar names, they are two separate potential grant streams to tap into.
But Carter Jonas Partner James Bradley says interest from farmers in both schemes could be restricted due to a number of factors.
R&D Partnerships Fund
Defra says the £8m for this scheme will be targeted towards larger-scale research and development among farmers and researchers which can demonstrate solutions that “have the potential to substantially improve overall productivity, sustainability and resilience of the sector”.
It follows a similar line to the fund which closed in December asking for applications on a smaller scale.
James Bradley, Partner at Carter Jonas, said: “The overall idea behind the Farming Innovation Programme is collaboration; the government wants businesses or researchers to work together and come up with game-changing ideas which clearly benefit farmers and growers.
“This is well intentioned but, in reality, this round of funding will be best suited to those who already have an idea or a concept that they want to see commercialised. With applications opening in just a few days, and then closing just six or seven weeks later, there isn’t a lot of time for new ideas to be thought up and adequately fleshed out.”
Projects lasting up to four years with a total cost of between £3m and £5m will be accepted and judged in a competition-style process.
“It’s difficult to predict which applications will be successful as we’re lacking specifics on what the judges are looking for,” James added.
Farming Futures R&D Fund
Projects which will help realise the government’s net zero strategy should be put forward for the Farming Futures R&D Fund.
“Defra is looking for high-value, ambitious and transformative solutions to help farmers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help them to adapt to the effects of climate change, so the objective is quite broad,” James said.
“There’s £12.5m available for this stage, and projects should cost between £3m and £6m over four years.”
Initially, applicants should submit an expression of interest with a full application necessary if the judging panel wants to know more.
“Again, there is not much guidance on which projects will be successful and which won’t, but those with a bold, ambitious idea already laid out should certainly put in an application,” James said.
“With only £12.5m available and a project costing up to £6m, competition could be tough.”
Find out more about grant funding available for farmers and landowners >>