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How we're encouraging innovation in farming

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Payments for research and innovation

To improve productivity and reduce the negative impact of agriculture on our environment, we need to think about innovation and invest in research and development.

It's also vital that we work with farmers, researchers and businesses to help turn novel ideas into smart solutions which work for them. Happily, that is exactly what Defra and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are doing through the Farming Innovation Pathways competition, which is open for applications.

In this post, I'll give an overview.

Farming Innovation Pathways

Farming Innovation Pathways is a £12 million agricultural research and development competition which was created to fund:

  1. Feasibility projects to test early-stage ideas (projects between £75,000 and £250,000)
  2. Industrial research to develop bigger ideas or build on existing solutions (projects between £250,000 and £750,000)

For example, you might be a grower who wants to research how to tackle a pest or disease. Perhaps you're a farmer with a novel idea for increasing farm resource efficiency. You might be a business and want to test the feasibility of integrating agroforestry into your production system. If so, do consider applying.

We want to fund projects across a range of areas including plant, livestock, novel food production systems, bio-economy and agroforestry.

We welcome applications from UK-registered businesses of any size, including farmers, growers, agribusinesses and research organisations.

If you have an idea and are a looking for project partners, or are a farmer or grower wanting to engage with another project, get in touch with the team at the Knowledge Transfer Network, and join their Farming Innovation Pathways LinkedIn group, where you can post partnering requests and join up with other organisations to build your team.

Applications will be assessed by at least 3 independent assessors, who have relevant industry or academic expertise. They will score the applications against set criteria and then colleagues from Defra and UKRI will agree which projects will be funded . More information about how applications are assessed can be found on GOV.UK.

The application window is open until the 28 April, with successful projects starting by October. We will notify applicants of the outcome in June.

We will write another blog post on the Farming Innovation Pathways competition once the successful projects have been announced so don’t forget to subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already, and sign up to Defra’s e-alerts too.

Further information

In this recording of a briefing event,  you can hear about how this competition fits with Defra’s plans for innovation, and get advice on how to apply.

The Centre for Effective Innovation in Agriculture has produced advice on how to help agribusinesses and researchers engage with farmers and growers for innovation.

If you have any questions or queries on how to apply, contact Innovate UK’s competition team at

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  1. Comment by Roy Gamlin posted on

    Can someone please set up the displayed live links to 'open in a new page', please?

    • Replies to Roy Gamlin>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Done! Thanks for flagging, Roy.

  2. Comment by Sue posted on

    Hi, we have been told about a government supported fund/grant that may be available to farmers wishing to invest in improving productivity and animal health through robotics. Can you give me anh information regarding this?

  3. Comment by Patricia Windle posted on

    Hello, I have 25 acres of land, that is let for grazing, sheep and cattle, what are my alternatives if any in the future years, and details of grants available.
    Thank you


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