Farmers and growers in England can apply for up to £500,000 in government funding from today, January 19, to invest in cutting edge robotics and technology to boost food production.

The application window for the new Improving Farm Productivity scheme - worth £25 million in total - will remain open for eight weeks, closing on March 16.

The funding is the latest installment of the Farming Investment Fund, an umbrella fund which opened in November and is designed to increase productivity on farms. Further themed grants will open later this year.

Grants under the Improving Farm Productivity scheme range from £35,000 to £500,000 and are available to invest in productivity-boosting equipment, i.e. driverless tractors, robots that harvest, spray crops and weed and automated milking systems.

Farmers will also be able to apply for grants towards new slurry management systems. They can purchase equipment that lowers the acid in slurry which in turn increases the nutrients for plants and reduces ammonia emissions and pollution.

This will contribute to the 25-year Environment Plan, Clean Air Strategy, and government commitments to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said:

“We know how important it is for farmers to identify opportunities that maximise productivity and yields.

These grants are aimed at contributing towards the purchase of new and green equipment that can bring a positive change to the day to day operation of a farm, as well as the wider environment."

“If you are a farm owner and are planning to invest in your business to increase productivity in an environmentally sustainable way, this fund may be suited to your needs," added Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency, which will be delivering the funds.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will host a webinar on January 24, at 10:00a.m, to explore the details of this theme, and will be available to answer any questions. Registration can be completed here.