Farmer-led projects receive new funding boost

Announcing Research Starter competition round three winners and unveiling new funding opportunities for early-stage ideas.

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, more than £125 million in funding has already been provided to support the on-farm application of new innovation and automation, with 150 projects involving 400 organisations already backed by the programme.

Round three winners

The 18 successful funding winners from round three of Research Starter are now starting to bring their innovations to life.

The winners include Future Green Farm’s unique fertiliser made from waste produced during the process of turning biogas into energy. This water-soluble product offers a cost-effective, low-carbon solution for farming.

Another successful project from KJ Voase is looking to generate net zero nitrogen fertiliser pellets from upcycled plastics.

There is also support for orchards. Rumwood Green Farm’s technology is assessing diseases in fruit and trees, Adrian Scripps’ precision crop management tool, and Sanford Orchard’s work in tracing and testing rare and unknown apple varieties.

Livestock and animal-focused innovations include Langrish farmers focusing on testing and improving wool quality.

Meanwhile, both Winson Agricultural and Yeatman and Sons’ are looking into novel ways of tackling these issues that have a big impact on the farm’s productivity and the wellbeing of the animals. Winson Agricultural has developed a cattle hoof monitor to detect lameness in cows and Yeatman and Sons has developed sustainable solutions for moving downer cows for treatment.

With other winners tackling areas from blueberries and hazelnuts to manure and soil health, the funding has provided support to a wide range of everyday issues for the benefit of farmers, growers and foresters in England.

Round four funding opportunity

Building on the success of this and previous rounds, and as announced by Environment Secretary Steve Barclay last week, round four of Research Starter funding opportunity will open on 18 December.

Farmers, growers and foresters from across England are invited to apply for a share of £850,000 in funding that aims to support early-stage on-farm ideas and new agricultural solutions.

Round four will once again focus on ambitious projects, concepts and innovations that support a more resilient, productive and sustainable UK food sector, with net zero ambitions at its core.

It aims to bring together farmers and growers with academic and research organisations, as well as novel technology specialists, to identify and develop bold new ideas to tackle real-world problems across the sector.

Fostering agricultural innovation

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

The continued success of the Research Starter initiative demonstrates the expertise and determination to address the challenges that face farmers and growers. Supporting early-stage innovation based on real-world, on-farm issues is key to overcoming issues within the sector, alongside engaging multiple stakeholders to encourage greater knowledge sharing and collaboration for the good of the wider sector.

Further information

FIP: Research Starter round three funding winners

Rumwood Green Farm

Funding award: £46,918

Project: Apple orchard health: evaluating hyperspectral imagery for disease detection and biostimulant efficacy

Horwich Farm

Funding award: £41,573

Project: Use of recovered yeast and grain residues from pot-ale in the construction of a sheep pellet

FG Smith and Son

Funding award: £47,059

Project: Composting dairy slurry

Andrew Kent

Funding award: £37,871

Project: A feasibility study of mechanized hazelnut harvesting in the UK

Bradley Farms

Funding award: £49,280

Project: Robotic fieldsman

Martin Ward

Funding award: £41,566

Project: Agricultural heating and anaerobic digestion from deep borehole geothermal energy

Adrian Scripps Ltd

Funding award: £36,304

Project: Towards real-time precision crop management: automatic during-harvest assessment of apple yield

Digital Agritech Ltd

Funding award: £42,794

Project: Safe hybrid working in horticultural crops

Blankney Estates Ltd

Funding award: £49,278

Project: Commercially produced grass wax as a novel biocontrol system to combat potato blight

G&D Matthews Ltd

Funding award: £43,124

Project: Developing the south forty-foot water bank: a pilot study

Winson Agricultural

Funding award: £48,411

Project: Cattle hoof monitor

Yeatman and Sons

Funding award: £38,923

Project: Cow recovery: the sustainable solution for improving downer cow outcomes

Owens Poultry

Funding award: £27,214

Project: Farm to fert

Robert Thomas Farms Ltd

Funding award: £49,280

Project: Dynamic depth control for precision destoning in fields for vegetables

Langrish Farmers

Funding award: £45,021

Project: Fabulous fibre: reducing micron count of finer wool quality UK sheep breeds to increase productivity, sustainability and resilience in the wool industry

Future Greens Farms Ltd

Funding award:£46,666

Project: Water-soluble fertiliser for food crops derived from biogas digestate

KJ Voase and Son

Funding award: £41,640

Project: Developing alternative net zero nitrogen fertilisers with no losses to groundwater and lower cost of nitrogen nutrient reaching the crop

Sandford Orchards Limited

Funding award: £30,087

Project: Study of historic orchards, to find ‘natural survivors’ and assess for natural low-carbon potential, and climate survivability

Top image:  Credit: Pexels

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