• Research to reduce methane emissions
• Innovation key to future of UK agriculture
• Sustainable and resilient farming sector
The government has awarded up to £30 million to cutting-edge farming projects that help to create a more resilient and sustainable agricultural sector.
They include ground-breaking genetic research projects which could reduce methane emissions in cattle by 17%; and a project to produce a reliable UK-grown protein source that can replace soya in human foods.
Funding is expected to be awarded to more than 50 projects. A further £12.5m will fund projects that boost productivity and help farmers produce food sustainably (see panel).
The funding is all part of the Farming Innovation Programme, run in partnership with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and delivered by Innovate UK, which is making £270m to fund farm research and development projects.
Defra secretary Therese Coffey said: “Farmers are always forward-looking, and innovation is key to driving forward a resilient, productive and sustainable agriculture sector that puts food on our tables while protecting and restoring the environment.
“Alongside our new farming schemes, these grants will help to support farmers and pave the way for a technological transformation that will help produce food sustainably for generations to come.”
It follows the Farm to Fork Summit earlier this month where the government announced a package of support for the farming sector, including new measures to ensure the sector remains at the forefront of adopting new technologies and techniques.
This includes substantial investment to unlock the potential of precision genetic breeding for farmers. Meanwhile, a working group will bring together plant breeders, food manufacturers and retailers to agree an approach that enables these products to reach consumers.
Breadth and quality
Innovate UK executive director Katrina Hayter said: “The competitions once again demonstrate the sheer breadth and quality of innovation within the UK agri-food space.
“We’re proud to be able to help deliver these funding and partnership opportunities to the sector, bringing together farmers, growers, technologists and researchers in a common aim of making the UK food system more sustainable and resilient.
“Whether improving existing production or introducing novel foods and techniques, the winners have all risen to the innovation challenge and we look forward to supporting their development further.”
The government says that the grants – alongside the government’s new flexible and accessible farming schemes – will ensure that farmers remain at the heart of the rural economy and feeding the nation.