Defra recently published guidance for the third round of the Farming Futures Research and Development competition focusing on agriculture and horticulture robotics.
In partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Defra will match-fund projects which will boost productivity and sustainable farming practices through the development of automation and robotic technologies on farm.
The fund aims to bring together agri-food businesses and researchers to address strategic and sector-wide challenges through transformative solutions.
Farmers, growers, businesses, and researchers are being invited to apply for a share of £12.5 million, with grants for projects worth between £500,000 and £1.5 million available, with the competition split into 2 strands:
Strand 1: Farming Futures: automation and robotics industrial research collaborative industry-led research projects with project costs between £500,000 and £1 million over 36-48 months
Strand 2: Farming Futures: automation and robotics experimental development collaborative, experimental development projects with project costs between £750,000-£1.5 million over 24-36 months
By investing in robotics and automation, DEFRA hope to improve productivity on farms, encourage sustainable farming practices, and use data to improve animal welfare and food quality. In the long term, we hope that investment in this area will help to reduce input costs. Automation and robotics were also identified in the National Food Strategy for their potential to promote growth in the sector.
This investment forms part of the £270m Farming Innovation Programme, which was launched in October 2021. More than £70 million has been spent so far on industry-led research and development in agriculture and horticulture.
Applications can be submitted from 9 January 2023, and project leads should be UK-registered businesses of any size, while farmers and growers can participate as part of a wider consortium.
For more information, read the Future Farming Blog post.