Empowering farmer-led initiatives

Round two large R&D competition winners revealed, and new funding announced for industrial research and experimental development.

The funding opportunity forms part of the Department for Environment Food Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme (FIP), delivered by Innovate UK.

Under the FIP funding initiative, farmers are given the opportunity to collaborate with other businesses and researchers to overcome barriers and create a more productive and sustainable sector. These projects contribute significantly to environmental goals, including addressing climate change.

Addressing on-farm challenges and opportunities

Two successful projects will share up to £6.7 million funding to address challenges in orchard management and grassland farming.

POME project

The precision orchard management and environment (POME) project, led by Hutchinson, is looking to transform the tree fruit industry. They will develop an innovative Precision Variable Rate Spray (PVRS) machine and software system, coupled with novel tree monitoring techniques.

This advancement promises increased environmental sustainability, improved efficiency, higher yields, and reduced costs and environmental impact.

In a true collaborative effort, this project will leverage the collective knowledge and expertise of multiple partners including companies specialising in agronomy, software engineering, robotics, and horticultural engineering.

Additionally, it will involve high-quality growers, a prominent top fruit marketing organisation, a crop phenotyping specialist, the UK’s agricultural chemical regulation organisation, and three academic institutions.

NUE-LEG project

The second project, nutrient use efficiency of legumes (NUE-LEG), led by Openfolde, will improve the utilisation of nutrients in grassland farming to minimise environmental impact. It will also simultaneously boost the economic and sustainable aspects of this agricultural practice.

The project will see an alliance between legume breeders, soil scientists and an nongovernmental organisation or charity alongside academic and industry partners to greater enhance grassland farming.

Building on success

A third round of the large research and development (R&D) partnerships opens on 15 January. Research organisations or UK businesses are invited to apply for a share of £7.8 million in funding.

The competition will help businesses develop new farming products and services and take them to commercialisation on the open market.

Fostering collaboration

Dr Stella Peace, Executive Director for the Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said:

These projects are great examples of innovation, tackling on-farm challenges with groundbreaking solutions. They also demonstrate the transformative power of collaborative partnerships across diverse sectors.

Further information

Successful projects

POME project

Led by: H.L. Hutchinson Ltd

Funding amount: £3,413,332

Openfolde Ltd – £3,302,867

NUE-LEG project

Led by: Openfolde Ltd

Funding amount: £3,302,867

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