Feeding the nation, with robots: New funding round for farmers encourages automation
A new round of farming funding to the tune of £12.5m will help those who feed the nation launch new automation and robotics projects.
The latest chunk of a £270m programme launched last year was announced this morning by Defra (the department for environment food and rural affairs), in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
The round of Farming Futures Research and Development Fund looks to give a shot in the arm to productivity and sustainable farming practices, by developing new automation and robotic technologies.
Farmers, growers and firms linked to agriculture can ask for a share of the £12,5m fund, with grants between half-a-million and £1.5m up for grabs.
So far more than £70m has been spent on research and development projects.
Farming Minister Mark Spencer said it is “an exciting opportunity for farmers and growers to come together with businesses and researchers to invent ingenious solutions to the problems our agriculture and horticulture sectors face.”
“Automation and robotics has huge potential to improve productivity and sustainability and by supporting some of the most promising ideas to get off the ground we are investing in a successful agriculture and horticulture industry for generations to come.
Industrial Strategy Challenge Director – Transforming Food Production at UKRI, Katrina Hayter, said “innovation through automation and the use of game-changing technology is one of the central pillars of a future food system in the UK.”
“The ability to plan, monitor, alert and review through digital systems brings substantial benefits to farmers and growers – from animal and crop health through to optimising harvest, waste reduction and environmental impact.”
“The competition will consider ideas for bringing forward this technology, and also look at how automation can support necessary farm labour, making roles more effective and productive for all involved. With such opportunity, we look forward to studying the new concepts within the applications, and to supporting some of the best and brightest ideas in bringing their projects to the next stage.”