Skip to main content

https://defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/2024/01/25/apply-for-an-improving-farm-productivity-grant/

Apply for an Improving Farm Productivity grant

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Payments for equipment, technology and infrastructure
Credit: 1010

I’m pleased to say that you can now apply for an Improving Farm Productivity grant.  

Last month, we published the guidance for the grant on GOV.UK as we wanted to give you time to plan and consider your options before the checker (the first step to apply) launched.

The guidance explains what the Improving Farm Productivity grant is for, who is eligible and the process to apply.

In this post, I'll explain some additional changes we've made to the offer, give you a recap of other aspects of the grant and the links you'll need to get started. 

Update to the robotics and automation offer 

Since my last post on 12 December, we decided to increase the proportion of the costs that the grant will cover from 40% to 50% for robotic and automated equipment.

This means that the grant will pay for a greater proportion of the total project cost than under Round 1. 

The offer for solar equipment will remain the same at 25%. 

The guidance has been updated to reflect this change, please take the time to familiarise yourself with this before you apply. 

Grant overview

This is the second time we've offered this grant, with the first round opening in January 2022. 

Part of the Farming Investment Fund, the Improving Farm Productivity grant is open to farmers, growers and related contractors. 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 both energy resilience and the take-up of renewable energy generation on farms 

For robotic and automated equipment, the minimum grant available is £25,000 and the maximum grant available is £500,000. The grant will now cover up to 50% of the cost.  

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

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

The grant is open to horticultural and farm businesses. Contractors from those sectors are eligible to apply for grants towards the purchase of robotic and automated equipment, but not solar equipment. 

How to apply  

As was the case in the first round, there is a 2-step application process for this round.    

Start by reading the Improving Farm Productivity grant guidance (Round 2) on GOV.UK.

1. Online checker 

The process starts with an online eligibility checker. You'll find it in the 'How to apply' section of the guidance. 

The checker is designed to determine your eligibility and whether your project fits the funding priorities. It has two separate journeys: one for robotic and automated equipment and another for solar equipment.  

You will be asked various questions on the type of equipment you wish to fund, whether it be robotic or automated, or solar equipment. 

It will take roughly 20 minutes to complete and you will learn the outcome instantly.  Depending on the outcome of the checker, you will be invited to make a full application.  

The checker is now live, and it will remain open for 8 weeks.  

This means the deadline to use the checker is 21 March at 23:59.

2. Full application

Those invited to make a full application have until 30 June 2025 to do so. 

Before you submit your full application, depending on the nature of your project, you may need to secure planning permission. 

Join our webinars

  • On 30 January, we’re hosting a 1-hour webinar about the Improving Farm Productivity grant. Sign up to attend. 
  • On 31 January, we’re hosting a 1-hour webinar specifically for horticultural businesses. Sign up to attend. 
  • Tomorrow (26 January), we're hosting a 1.5 hour webinar about the Farming offer in England with the Farming Advice Service (FAS). Sign up to attend. 

We’ll share links to the recordings on the blog once they’re over.  

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

You might be interested to read the comments on my last post as a number of you put questions to me there.

Sharing and comments

Share this page

31 comments

  1. Comment by Ann Sanders posted on

    I should like to make the point although this grant funding may appear to be generous on the surface all it really succeeds in doing is to massively inflate the cost of the robotic and solar equipment.

    As with any farm subsidy or support it is the manufactures and agricultural suppliers who benefit far more than the actual farmers.

    Reply
    • Replies to Ann Sanders>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for visiting and for sharing your view. We've conducted analysis of actual prices paid by farmers for equipment in the earlier rounds of the Countryside Productivity Small Grants and the Farming Equipment and Technology Funds. This suggests that, of the items available for grant aid, the majority were purchased either at or below the specified standard cost and that farmers are negotiating well with suppliers. We will however continue to monitor this after each offer.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  2. Comment by Emma Powlett posted on

    Does the grant allow robotic machinery in the factory? For improving the processing of their crop?

    Reply
    • Replies to Emma Powlett>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Emma,

      The Improving Farm Productivity grant will fund equipment for pre-harvest activities, so unfortunately will not provide grants for equipment used in processing. However, the Adding Value grant (another of our grants under the Farming Investment Fund) offers grants for buildings, machinery or equipment so that producers can add value to eligible agricultural products after they are harvested or reared. That grant is currently closed for new applications, but we would announce any new rounds of the grant on the blog, so do subscribe if you haven't already: https://defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/subscribe/

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
      • Replies to Izzie Wells>

        Comment by Emma Powlett posted on

        Thanks. I am on the webinar tomorrow, 30th, but can only sit on first half - so will catch up with the recording.

        However, how about an optical sorter that removes waste product and foreign bodies (stones, bones, plastics etc) from ending up in supermarket shelves- it fits the robotic technology description and its the equivalent of a auto weeder !.

        Reply
  3. Comment by Grace Gardiner posted on

    After submitting your application, how long will it take for the RPA to make agreement offer?

    Reply
    • Replies to Grace Gardiner>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Grace

      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.

      These exact dates may be subject to change, but we will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date information on the blog, so do subscribe if you haven't already: https://defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/subscribe/

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  4. Comment by Garry Price posted on

    Well we were thinking of a battery storage facility as we have in place a 100 khw barn roof solar panel system and a second 50 khw barn roof solar panel system a total of 150 khw. So we will look for a suitable battery system to operate on this size of operation?

    Reply
    • Replies to Garry Price>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Garry,

      Yes, you are able to apply for suitable battery storage both for existing and new solar installations.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  5. Comment by S posted on

    This is so depressing - as a small rural horticultural business (under 5 hectares), these sums and sizes are just too huge. When are there going to be small grants or matched funding for robotics or solar - why only big farms or business?

    Reply
    • Replies to S>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hello,

      Thank you for sharing your feedback.

      Our Farming Equipment and Technology Fund exists to provide smaller grants from £1,000 for specific items of equipment and technology for farming, horticultural or forestry, which may be of interest to you. We have worked closely with stakeholders whilst developing this offer of the Improving Farm Productivity 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 have also decreased the minimum grant amount to £25,000 from £35,000 to enable applications for less expensive items of robotic and automatic equipment.

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

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
      • Replies to The Team>

        Comment by Caroline Jackman posted on

        In an earlier comment you referenced the Farming Equipment Technology Fund, will this fund be available in 2024?

        Reply
        • Replies to Caroline Jackman>

          Comment by The Team posted on

          Hi Caroline,

          Yes it will - we'll publish more information about the FETF in 2024 very soon.

          Best wishes,
          The Team

          Reply
  6. Comment by Abby Cook posted on

    If you are invited to submit a full application and do so relatively promptly after you have received the invitation, how quickly can you expected to receive a decision - I assume with stage 2 full application you don't have to wait until the 2025 deadline window to hear a response?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Abby Cook>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Abby,

      In 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
  7. Comment by Abby Cook posted on

    Hi, How long after you have submitted your full application would you expect to hear an answer as to whether you have been successful and will be awarded the grant? I assume you wouldn't need to wait until the closing date in 2025?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Abby Cook>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Abby,

      In 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
  8. Comment by Alan McLean posted on

    does the grant cover computer controlled calf feeders

    Reply
  9. Comment by Chris Watt posted on

    Do I need to book a slot to speak with you at Dairy Tech, or can I just walk up?

    Reply
    • Replies to Chris Watt>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi Chris,

      No need to book a slot - just come on over to our stand.

      Looking forward to meeting you.

      Best wishes,
      The Team

      Reply
  10. Comment by Rhiannon posted on

    For Stage 2 of solar PV grant applications it states that 3 catalogue listings or formal tenders are required for each item with a value greater than £5,000. Does this mean 3 quotations from separate suppliers for the delivery of the project?

    Reply
    • Replies to Rhiannon>

      Comment by Izzie Wells posted on

      Hi Rhiannon,

      Yes, you will need to get 3 quotes from different suppliers.

      We ask this so that we have some assurance that both Defra and applicants are getting the best value for money.

      Best wishes,
      Izzie

      Reply
  11. Comment by Emily Cooke posted on

    Hello,

    How long after receiving our score via the online checker will we be invited to complete a full application (if invited)?

    Reply
  12. Comment by Emily Cooke posted on

    Also, I've been keeping an eye out for the recording of the Improving Farm Productivity grant webinar. I am signed up to the blog. Has it been uploaded?

    Reply
  13. Comment by Jim Scarratt posted on

    Hi,
    Just trying to work out if a camera hoe for sugar beet would be grant funded? I'm not talking about a fully automatic system that views plants and hoes around each plant, but one which hoes between the rows using a camera to adjust left and right in the row?

    Reply
  14. Comment by Jenny posted on

    Hi,

    Can you confirm is this grant funding open to farmers in Scotland?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Jenny>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Jenny,

      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,
      Sarah

      Reply

Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.