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https://defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/2023/12/12/improving-farm-productivity-grants-get-ready-for-round-2/

Improving Farm Productivity grants: get ready for Round 2

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Payments for equipment, technology and infrastructure
Solar panels on roof of a farm building in English farmland
Credit: Peter O’Connor

In a few weeks’ time, you will once again have the opportunity to apply for an Improving Farm Productivity grant. To help you prepare, we’ve published guidance on GOV.UK.

In this post, I’ll share an overview of the grant, the changes we've made in this round and a link to the guidance. 

Robotic and automatic machinery and the use of solar equipment 

The Improving Farm Productivity grant is open to farmers and horticultural businesses. It will pay for capital items to improve farm and horticulture productivity through: 

  • the use of robotic and automated equipment and systems to aid crop and livestock production 
  • the installation of solar equipment to increase energy resilience and the take-up of renewable energy generation on farm 

Contractors from those sectors are eligible to apply for grants towards the purchase of robotic and automated equipment, but not solar equipment. 

For robotic and automated equipment, we are reducing the minimum grant available to £25,000 and the maximum grant available remains at £500,000. The grant will cover up to 40% of the cost of eligible items.  

For solar equipment, the minimum grant available is £15,000, with the maximum grant being £100,000. The grant will cover up to 25% of the cost of eligible items. 

You can apply for both automated and robotic equipment and solar equipment, however your maximum grant amount cannot exceed £500,000 in total for both applications together. 

The grant is part of the Farming Investment Fund. 

What’s new for Round 2 

Since launching Round 1, we’ve gathered valuable feedback on how we can improve the grant.  

Previously, the fund offered grants for robotic autonomous systems and slurry acidification equipment. 

We are taking on board feedback received from stakeholders by decreasing the minimum grant amount to £25,000 and broadening the scope of the offer to fund both robotic and automated innovative equipment to aid crop and livestock production. 

By doing this, we now hope to benefit a broader range of agricultural and horticultural applications in Round 2. 

Round 1 of the grant included slurry acidification equipment, however this has now been removed from Round 2. 

Following the announcements made at the Farm to Fork conference held at No.10 in May and on Back British Farming Day in September, we are also pleased to introduce a new solar equipment offer to the fund. 

Applying for a grant 

The first step to apply will be an online checker, which is expected to open in January and run until March. This will assess your eligibility and likelihood of success and will, in turn, determine whether you are invited to submit a full application.  

We’ll blog again when it’s time to apply. 

If you have any questions about the grant after reading the guidance, leave a comment below. 

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89 comments

  1. Comment by Emma Powlett posted on

    Would an automated wrapper be eligible for a horticultural producer? Improve efficiency - productivity etc etc?

    Reply
  2. Comment by andrew cade posted on

    we are currently in the process of completing a solar project would this be eligible for grant funding.

    Reply
    • Replies to andrew cade>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately, if work on the project has already started, it would not be eligible for grant funding.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  3. Comment by Emma Powlett posted on

    Thanks Lizzie

    Any idea when adding value will next be open? I am guessing late '24 at earliest which is an awfully long time away in terms of business development and growth?

    Could you not open these schemes and have quarterly windows ?

    Emma

    Reply
    • Replies to Emma Powlett>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Emma,

      Unfortunately we can't provide any details of when a second round of the Adding Value grant will be available, but whenever guidance for a new grant is published or available, we'll share it here on the blog.

      For Farming Investment Fund grants, we allow more time between rounds as these larger projects take longer for applicants to get all the supporting information together the necessary quotes for the project items and planning permission where required at the Full Application stage, etc). This means that applications can therefore take some time to be received, reviewed and completed (can be at least 6 months and up to two years for some projects), and therefore it would not be practical to hold multiple rounds of schemes within a year.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  4. Comment by Martyn Bragg posted on

    Hi
    Does the grant for solar equipment include battery storage?

    Reply
    • Replies to Martyn Bragg>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Martyn,

      Yes, it does.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  5. Comment by Stefan Arsene posted on

    Hello,

    Will a bio chopper compact shredder qualify for the grant under the automation side?

    https://royalbrinkman.com/mechanical-equipment/crop-rotation-machines/bio-chopper-compact-ti530-crop-shredder-941900050

    Reply
    • Replies to Stefan Arsene>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hello,

      If the item you are looking at is not on the list of eligible equipment you can put it through the online eligibility checker once it is open as 'other robotic or automatic equipment'.

      Please include the make and model of the equipment as requested in the checker to help RPA when reviewing your online checker application.

      However, ensure that you read the guidance as automatic equipment must meet at least two of the tests for shown in the guidance. RPA will review any items applied for through the checker after it closes and may request further information when reviewing the eligibility of the item.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  6. Comment by Ed Lennon posted on

    Hello,

    Can you confirm if any Agriculture sector is eligable for the Solar grant or do they need to be a dairy farm for example?

    Reply
  7. Comment by Ben posted on

    Hi,

    So if the minimum grant for a solar system is £15,000 then the project must cost at least £60,000 to qualify?
    That would equate to a massive system for an average farm (most who won't have grid capacity to export much of that power).
    If the minimum grant was less wouldn’t it create many more opportunities for 'average' farmers rather than targeting a few very big electricity consuming ones?

    Reply
    • Replies to Ben>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Yes that is correct. We have worked closely with stakeholders whilst developing the solar offer of the grant to ensure that small solar projects would be eligible for the grant. The £60,000 project cost minimum would include costs for installation costs, the solar panels themselves, in addition to solar batteries, inverters, utility meters, electrical grid connections and power diverters which would all increase the cost of projects.

      We will be reviewing the performance of this scheme and will take any feedback and findings into consideration when planning any future rounds.

      Many thanks,

      Izzie

      Reply
      • Replies to Izzie Wells>

        Comment by M p Loughran posted on

        Is this grant available in Northern Ireland

        Reply
        • Replies to M p Loughran>

          Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

          Hello there,

          Unfortunately not. You can only apply for a grant if you’re a farmer or horticulturalist in England. Contractors can also apply if they have a registered business address in England.

          Best wishes,
          Izzie

          Reply
  8. Comment by Joseph posted on

    Hello,

    what security of tenure will the solar grants require?

    TIA

    Reply
  9. Comment by Alan Beresford posted on

    Izzy,

    Advanced ventilation control units refers to:
    "The funding is to support the installation of, or updating of ventilation systems in existing buildings which should include: 
    control units, heat exchangers, and air scrubbers "

    Does this mean that all projects have to include air scrubbers or is this an option?

    Reply
    • Replies to Alan Beresford>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Alan ,

      Yes – the kit purchase will need to include air scrubbers, its not an option.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  10. Comment by Ala Beresford posted on

    Izzy

    What is the specification/description of the type of scrubber required. There are many options from simple spray systems through to acid scrubbers which are high capital items and can have significant energy use. Any guidance on this?

    Reply
  11. Comment by Nick posted on

    Hello

    When does the online eligibility checker open?

    Reply
  12. Comment by Will Overvoorde posted on

    Hi -do you have an idea when in January we will be able to begin the application process?

    Reply
    • Replies to Will Overvoorde>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Will,

      Thanks for your interest in the grant. Very soon! Once the checker opens, we'll publish a post to notify people. If you subscribe to the blog, you'll get a notification: https://defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/subscribe/

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  13. Comment by CHRIS KNELLER posted on

    I would like to invest in robotic milking but the lead time for these machines is 3+ months.
    If I put a deposit down on a robot to get them into production so I could be using them in say May/June can I claim a grant on these as we have been waiting for the application window to be open for months.
    Thanks
    Chris

    Reply
    • Replies to CHRIS KNELLER>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Chris,

      In order to claim a grant under this fund, you must first submit an initial application via the online checker.

      RPA will then review all applications received. If successful, you would then be invited by the RPA to make a full application.

      After reviewing your full application, RPA will send you a grant funding agreement (GFA) if you are successful in being offered a grant. You must accept the GFA and reach the project start date before you:

      - start work   
      - commit to any costs (including paying deposits)   
      - enter into any legal contracts   
      - place an order   

      Any costs you incur before this, are at your own risk and may make your whole project ineligible.

      I hope this helps.
      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  14. Comment by David Matthews posted on

    Is the solar grant available in Wales.

    Reply
    • Replies to David Matthews>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi David,

      You can only apply for a grant if you’re a farmer or horticulturalist in England, unfortunately. Contractors can also apply if they have a registered business address in England.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  15. Comment by Alistair Munro posted on

    Does rhe grant extend to small wind turbines for agricultural applications. Is the grant available in all of UK including Scotland and N.Ireland.

    Reply
    • Replies to Alistair Munro>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Alistair,

      The grant is only available in England. The grant will solely fund solar renewable energy systems. Following the round of this fund we can review and reconsider our offer for any future rounds.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  16. Comment by Goodwin posted on

    Hi Izzie,

    Can i check when in Jan we can expect checker stage to open for solar panels?

    Where is best place to keep checking for updates?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Goodwin>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hello,

      Imminently! The best thing to do is to subscribe to this blog. As soon as we publish a post, you'll receive a notification by email. When it's time to apply for a grant or when a checker opens, we'll always publish a post and we usually write a reminder post before a checker/fund closes.

      https://defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/subscribe/

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  17. Comment by Richard Swatton posted on

    Hi There,

    Is it possible to use this grant to contribute to a PPA?

    So if a power purchase fund wants to fund a solar array for a farmer, can 25% of that sum come from this grant and the balance from the PPA funders.

    A reply would be appreciated

    Reply
    • Replies to Richard Swatton>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Richard,

      For solar equipment grants you can apply for a grant if you’re a farmer or horticulturalist in England. The solar PV assets must be owned and on the asset register of the applicant business for the duration of the grant funding agreement (five years after payment of final claim). The grant cannot be used to fund systems not owned by the applicant business.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  18. Comment by Alistair Munro posted on

    Is the grant available to small wind as well as solar for renewable energy generation.

    Reply
    • Replies to Alistair Munro>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Alistair,

      Thanks for your comment - as above - the grant will solely fund solar renewable energy systems. Following the round of this fund we can review and reconsider our offer for any future rounds.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  19. Comment by luke price posted on

    hi
    if you have an existing solar already, would the grant fund to add on a battery storage unit to it

    many thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to luke price>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Luke,

      Yes, you can apply for battery storage for an existing system.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  20. Comment by Tom Charles posted on

    The grant mentions that ground mounted solar will be ineligible, but that panels on reservoirs will be eligible. Is this floating solar only, or would panels on the banks of reservoirs, specifically to feed the pumps be eligible?

    Reply
  21. Comment by Mike posted on

    Can you confirm if solar thermal equipment, (specifically the high efficient collector panels) is covered by the grant. Im looking at an installation to support hot water demand?

    Reply
  22. Comment by Neil Wells posted on

    Can you apply for the grant if you already have solar and want to install a 2nd system?

    Reply
    • Replies to Neil Wells>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Neil,

      Yes, you can.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  23. Comment by Corey posted on

    How long does it take to find out if I am eligible for funding, and if so, how long would it take for the funding to reach my account? Roughly?

    Reply
    • Replies to Corey>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hello Corey,

      If you are successful at both the online checker stage and full application stage you will be offered a Grant Funding Agreement. At that point you can start work on your project. You can make up to three claims during the delivery of your project. Claims are paid in arrears for work completed on the project. We aim to process claims within 30 working day or receipt of the claim.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
      • Replies to Izzie Wells>

        Comment by Corey Ward posted on

        Thank you Izzie, that was very helpful.

        I know this might be how long is a piece of string question, but how long roughly do you expect the checker stage and full application stage to take?

        Reply
  24. Comment by Cerys posted on

    Hi,

    If I was to use this grant, am I then allowed to use the Annual Investment Allowance on top of this?

    Thank you,

    Reply
    • Replies to Cerys>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Cerys,

      We're afraid we're unable to give advice on this. As AIA is tax relief, you should discuss how applying for this grant (or any grant) will impact the tax position of your business with your accountant or business adviser.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  25. Comment by Ian Aird posted on

    What dates do The Improving Farm Production run from?

    Reply
  26. Comment by Janet posted on

    Hello, if you would like to apply for a solar grant do you have to apply for batteries as part of it, or can you just apply for the panels and install etc.. Many thanks.

    Reply
    • Replies to Janet>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Janet,

      Thanks for your question. No, you do not have to apply for batteries as a part of your solar installation, you could apply solely for the installation of panels.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
      • Replies to Izzie Wells>

        Comment by Steven Donaldson posted on

        But the eligibility check comes out higher with batteries - why is this?

        Reply
  27. Comment by David posted on

    Hi Izzie,

    Regarding the below:

    "The initial online checker stage will remain open until 21 March. After this date, the RPA will decide who to invite to the full application stage. If you are invited, you will have until 30 June 2025 to complete your full application."

    So, if invited to full application stage and this has been submitted by 30th June 2025, when does the actual solar system need to be installed by for the grant? Or does this mean that the system has to be installed by 30th June 2025?

    Thanks,
    David

    Reply
    • Replies to David>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi David,

      Applicants can inform the RPA of their timescales once they reach full application stage. The RPA expect the project to be complete and operation will all claims made within 18 months of the date of the grant funding agreement .

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  28. Comment by Mark Gould posted on

    Hi,

    I see the full application closing date is the 30 June 2025, if I submitted an application on the 22 March 2024 (assuming I was invited to), does this mean I won't hear if I'm successful or not, until after June 2025? Or will earlier submitted applications be aproved/declined before that date?

    Many thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Mark Gould>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Mark,

      At the Full Application stage, the RPA will review applications as they are received. They aim to give receipt of a decision to applicants within 60 working days of receiving a complete Full Application.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  29. Comment by Georgie Carlisle posted on

    Good afternoon,
    We have recently bought and had delivered two frost fans for a our vineyard. We couldn't wait as we desperately need them for April/May frosts this year and cannot risk waiting as it could be a case of losing all our yield if we did. I know in previous comments you state you cannot start or pay for a project before getting an application submitted but some grants do look at retrospective purchases and I wondered if this is something you would do in this scenario?
    Many thanks
    Georgie

    Reply
    • Replies to Georgie Carlisle>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Georgie,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately, for this particular grant, retrospective funding isn't available.

      I know your question was about grant funding - it might be worth taking a look at the grants under the Farming Investment Fund and Farming Innovation Programme too. Available grants are listed on this page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/funding-for-farmers

      In terms of ongoing payments to support vineyards in England, there are a range of actions we will pay growers to take through the Sustainable Farming Incentive.

      They include actions to improve soil health, enhance nutrient management and actions for farm wildlife (amongst others). You could even consider IPM2 ‘Flower rich grass margin, blocks or infield strip’ for alleys between vines, using species selected which deliver IPM benefits.

      Here's a link to the guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/sustainable-farming-incentive-guidance

      Here's a link to our main SFI site to learn more about the scheme: https://farming.campaign.gov.uk/

      I hope this helps,
      Sarah

      Reply
  30. Comment by Amanda Worthington posted on

    Good Morning,
    We are a Solar Company do we apply for the grant or do we have to register somewhere?

    Reply
    • Replies to Amanda Worthington>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Morning Amanda,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately this grant is only available to farmers and horticultural businesses so that they can apply for capital grants towards the purchase of equipment, including solar equipment.

      Thanks,
      The Team

      Reply
  31. Comment by Ben posted on

    Is the £60000 for solar grant including or excluding VAT

    Reply
  32. Comment by Matt Keniston posted on

    Could poultry farms benefit from this grant if they are looking to improve control systems and upgrade pumps & water treatment?
    Thanks

    Reply
  33. Comment by Steven Donaldson posted on

    For the eligibility checker do i need to have approvals I need in place already or can they come as part of the main application - I'm thinking DNO approval and upgrade approval and costs.

    So if I'm single phase today and need 3phase do i have to have all the boxes ticked when i do the eligibility check or just for the main application.

    Reply
    • Replies to Steven Donaldson>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Steven,

      There is no harm in making those approaches now as long as no money is committed, so if you receive an invite to full application you have a quote and timeline for the infrastructure upgrade if applicable.

      Solar energy which is DC current will be converted via the inverter to Single phase AC current for normal use. An inverter is available to change single phase to 3 phase. This is something to talk about to your solar PV provider.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  34. Comment by Steven Donaldson posted on

    Why does the eligibility check give better chances with batteries rather than just a Solar PV system?

    Reply
    • Replies to Steven Donaldson>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Steven,

      We want to encourage the take-up of solar batteries, so we've taken that into consideration when scoring applications.

      Solar batteries can give 24 hour flexibility therefore greater energy resilience on the farm, We want to support the more recent and less adopted technology of battery storage as part of PV system which will be more responsive and beneficial to the productivity of that farm.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  35. Comment by Steven Donaldson posted on

    How does it work - if my project is £60k do i need to show that i can fund all of this before i get the grant or do i only need to show i can fund £45k of it?

    Reply
  36. Comment by Harriet posted on

    Regarding the eligibility question - does your farm have existing solar PV - if you do, but at a different location, presumably the answer to give is still yes?

    Thanks

    Reply
  37. Comment by Austin Blair posted on

    We are considering converting our 123 acre livestock farm in Somerset from National Grid and LPG to solar energy. It will involve installing a 64 panel array and a battery array, but this would not be feasible without some financial support.
    Are grants currently available for this please?

    Reply
  38. Comment by Jake posted on

    Hi,

    Would anaerobic digestion using livestock waste be available?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Jake>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Jake,

      We do not currently offer capital grant funding towards anaerobic digestion projects. Please see the Slurry Infrastructure grant for more details of our grant offers to manage slurry https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/slurry-infrastructure-grant.

      The online checker (the first step to apply) for Round 2 of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant closed on 17 January 2024. There will be another opportunity to apply later this year, so please subscribe to the blog for updates.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  39. Comment by Steve posted on

    I understand the application window is now closed.

    Do you know when we will be contacted with offers or rejections to stage one applications?

    Steve

    Reply
    • Replies to Steve>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Steve,

      We're afraid we can't say exactly when applicants can expect to hear back at the checker stage, but the team is assessing the checker applications now. At the full application stage, the RPA will review applications as they are received. They aim to give receipt of a decision to applicants within 60 working days of receiving the application.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  40. Comment by Michael Murphy posted on

    Will the decision on this be made in 2024

    Reply

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