A £30 million fund has been allocated to farming projects that will focus on boosting food production, moving towards net zero and promoting a more sustainable agricultural sector it was announced today Wednesday (May 31).

The funding, announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is set to be awarded to more than 50 successful projects.

Some of the projects that will benefit from the funding include:

  • Genetics research projects which could reduce methane emissions in cattle by 17% per generation;
  • A UK-grown protein source that can replace soya in human foods;
  • Investigations into the use of drones and artificial intelligence to inspect and monitor animals to enable farmers to take action should animals go missing or need attention;
  • Efforts to develop biopesticides using fungal strains that help tackle pests in wheat crops and to pin-point the genetics for creating slug resistant wheat.

The government has also said a further £12.5 million will be made available to fund “innovative projects” that are aimed at delivering a more productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector.

The funds are part of the Farming Innovation Programme, run in partnership with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and delivered by Innovate UK.

Secretary of State for Agriculture, Thérèse 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 whilst 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.” 

Executive director of agriculture at Innovate UK, Katrina Hayter, said the competitions for funding 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.