£31 million has today (Thursday, June 8) been made available to farmers and foresters for farm productivity equipment and technology in the latest round of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF).

Successful applicants can now claim for grants under the productivity and slurry budget to help cover the costs of over 90 pieces of equipment like rainwater harvesting tanks and tree shears.

Over 3,000 applications were received for this year’s FETF, which provides funding to farming businesses to invest in tools needed for sustainable farming and production.

As a result of the high volume of applications, the government has said it is matching the “high demand” by increasing the total funding offered from £17 million to £31 million.

21 additional items have been added under the 2023 scheme including camera-guided inter-row sprayers to reduce herbicide usage and mulchers for forestry, orchards and vineyards to help reduce inputs costs and improve carbon retention in the soil.

Secretary of State for Food and Farming, Thérèse Coffey, said: “The tremendous interest shown in the FETF 2023 productivity and slurry underscores the determination of our farmers to drive ever more productive and sustainable farming practices to keep food on our plates whilst protecting our important landscapes and habitats. 

“By empowering farms to invest cash in new kit, we are ensuring our farmers, growers and foresters have the equipment they need to embrace innovation, protect the environment, and contribute to a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector.”

Productivity and slurry budget

Some of the items applied for in the FETF 2023 productivity and slurry budget include:

  • Direct drill with fertiliser placement for precision drilling of arable and cover crops – to help reduce crop establishment costs and increase efficiency of fertiliser usage. 250 applicants to be offered this grant worth £6.25 million;
  • Robotic drill and guided hoe which is an autonomous robotic vehicle that can precisely place seed in the ground and return to mechanically weed – this helps to reduce herbicide usage and associated costs. Ten applications accepted with a value of £250,000;
  • Rainwater harvesting tanks with a minimum capacity of 5,000L which will help to reduce water scarcity for farmers in the summer months. This equipment will now benefit 86 recipients with a value of £110,802;
  • Tree shears with the capacity to fell 300mm diameter trees to stop the spread of pests and diseases across our woodlands. This funding helped 113 recipients with a total value of £363,747;
  • Dribble bars with a minimum working width of 6m designed to apply slurry to the soil surface as accurately as possible to minimise grass contamination and ammonia emissions. This equipment was made accessible to 94 farmers, amounting to a value of £403,200;
  • Direct drills with a width of 3m to conserve moisture and reduces soil erosion. This initiative assisted 129 applicants, totalling £1.555m in value.

The FETF 2023 is made up of two themes: Animal health and welfare, and productivity and slurry.

The animal health and welfare FETF 2023 has been given a separate portal to streamline the application process and has seen 66 new items added to its books.

Applicants can still apply to the animal health and welfare strand of FETF 2023 until June 15, 2023.