There has been £100,000 made available for farmers under the Social Farming Capital Grant Scheme, according to  Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister Michelle McIIveen.

The scheme, which will run on a one-year pilot basis, is now open to applications from farmers who wish to improve their farms to facilitate social farming.

Announcing the opening of the scheme, Minister McIlveen said that her department has been supporting the development of social farming in Northern Ireland for a number of years.

“Social Farming and the involvement in day-to-day agricultural activities is well known for improving the well-being of those living with learning disabilities and mental health challenges.

It has also been shown to benefit the farmers and farm families hosting the participants.

"Having listened to those involved in the sector, I am delighted to make funding available from my Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme to help meet the capital costs involved in modern social farming," she said.

Meanwhile, the deadline for applications will come to close at 12pm on Monday, October 31, 2016.

Capital grants of between £500 and £4,999 are available to ‘Active Farmers’ already involved in the provision of Social Farming, according to DAERA.

An 'Active Farmer' is defined as a farmer who has already delivered social farming activities, completed social farming-related training or registered their interest in social farming with rural support’s social farming support service before October 1, 2016.

Detailed information on the scheme including the application form and Scheme guidance notes is available from the DAERA website.

This scheme will benefit both the Social Farming service users and the farm enterprise, the Minister for Agriculture said.

"These grants can make a huge difference to the quality of the on-farm experience and I would encourage farmers already involved in Social Farming to visit the DAERA website for more information on the Scheme and advice on how to apply."