Funding boosts farm resilience

Farming Futures funding opportunity winners revealed, securing a share of £12.2 million.

Through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) £270 million Farming Innovation Programme (FIP), delivered by Innovate UK, 24 projects have been awarded a share of £12.2 million.

FIP funds ambitious research and development projects to overcome barriers and create a more productive and sustainable sector.

The programme targets farmers, growers, foresters, and related businesses, focusing on research and development in the agricultural and horticultural sectors to:

  • help boost productivity
  • enhance sustainable practices
  • support economic growth
  • improve environmental outcomes
  • reduce carbon emissions

Environmental resilience

Farming practices and systems need to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of a range of factors including climate change, extreme weather events, pests, and other environmental challenges while maintaining sustainable productivity.

Innovative solutions are needed for fortifying agriculture against the complexities of our changing world.

Evaluating emerging solutions

Thirteen projects across broadacre, horticulture, livestock and bioeconomy sectors will share up to £4.5 million funding in the feasibility strand of the funding opportunity.

Solutions are exploring a wide range of innovations, including:

  • robotics for pest management
  • peatland restoration
  • satellite imagery and machine learning in vineyards
  • developing vaccines for E. coli and salmonella in poultry

These projects could offer dual benefits, enhancing both the environment and farmers’ outcomes, increasing yields, bolstering resilience, productivity, and sustainability, fostering biodiversity regeneration, while curbing landscape soil emissions and biosecurity risks.

Progressing emerging solutions

Eleven industrial research projects will see a share of £7.6 million to progress solutions to new products, processes and services.

These projects include solutions to combat a range of diseases and virus across both livestock and crops such as onions, potatoes and sugar beet, and breeding tools in hops and soft fruit.

Other projects are looking to reduce synthetic nitrogen usage in crop production, tools for assessing crop roots and soil health, and an artificial intelligence-enabled (AI) climate-smart fertiliser practice solution.

From concept to commercialisation

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

The portfolio of innovative projects spans from the early stages of ideation and feasibility testing to advanced development and demonstration. This dynamic blend of innovators reflects our commitment to supporting the entire innovation journey, fostering groundbreaking ideas and propelling projects towards successful commercialisation.

Further information

Successful projects: feasibility

Eagle Genomics Ltd

Funding award: £330,751

Project: A novel barometer for soil health including physical, chemical and microbial elements to guide regenerative and sustainable agriculture

Crover Ltd

Funding award: £334,788

Project: Improving the resilience of cereal grains and oilseeds in storage and transportation via next generation integrated pest management

Creative Innovations Tech Ltd

Funding award: £359,695

Project: Diagnosing and scoring diseases of crops using AI-based image analysis

Arrevolution Ltd

Funding award: £392,477

Project: Robotic strip cropping

Pollybell Farms Ltd

Funding award: £388,336

Project: Climate SAFE

Deep Planet Ltd

Funding award: £216,828

Project: VineSoilAlert

Terraprima Group Ltd

Funding award: £321,994

Project: Smarter forecasting, communication and management of frost risk in vineyards

Lambda Energy Ltd

Funding award: £411,046

Project: Increasing yield in UK protected cropping by altering light quality

Oxford Simcell Ltd

Funding award: £373,865

Project: Development of SimCell vaccine for effective control of E. coli and salmonella infections in poultry

AviaSenze Ltd

Funding award: £347,151

Project: Flockwatch: automated chicken health management

Folium Food Science Ltd

Funding award: £361,151

Project: Harnessing CRISPR-Cas to reduce ammonia emissions in poultry production

Cambridge Animal Technologies Ltd

Funding award: £408,109

Project: CHERI: calf health evaluation and remote inspection

Hudson and Sanders Ltd

Funding award: £294,553

Project: OPTIclean UV

Successful projects: industrial research

B-Hive Innovations Ltd

Funding award: £787,865

Project: FUSED: integrated fusarium early diagnostic and management

British Sugar plc

Funding award: £663,433

Project: Developing a precision breeding pathway via gene editing for virus yellows resistance in sugar beet

Bactobio Ltd

Funding award: £711,777

Project: Developing new microbe-derived fungicides against potato late blight

Crop Intellect Ltd

Funding award: £781,085

Project: Decarbonising agriculture: synergistic nitrogen-fixing bacteria and photocatalyst to maximise fertiliser efficiency and improve air quality

Bofin Farmers Ltd

Funding award: £811,814

Project: Thriving roots underpinning total soil health (TRUTH)

Mutus Tech Ltd

Funding award: £710,336

Project: AI-enabled climate-smart fertiliser practice for sustainable and resilient farming

James Hutton Ltd

Funding award: £827,081

Project: Raspberry economics in production

Wye Hops Ltd

Funding award: £476,850

Project: Genetic informed breeding of climate resilient UK hop varieties

Folium Food Science Ltd

Funding award: £727,837

Project: Safe poultry, secure future: guided biotics® to mitigate Campylobacter in farming systems for sustainable agriculture

B G Research Ltd

Funding award: £772,168

Project: In-field detection of economically important viral veterinary pathogens

Algapelago Marine Ltd

Funding award: £417,547

Project: Optimising low energy extraction of kelp for soil and livestock nutrition

Top image:  Credit: Maksym Belchenko, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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