AHDB News Spring 2019

FOR THE HORTICULTURAL INDUSTRY GrowSave News Spring 2019 In the autumn last year, Government announced they would commit a further £30 million to the next round of the popular small grants scheme for agriculture, with an expected opening window for applications in early 2019. The small grants programme is an important part of the Improving Countryside Productivity scheme funded by the Rural Development Programme for England. Whilst the anticipated start date may still be achievable, GrowSave understands that this is more likely to be early summer 2019, so that lessons learnt from the schemes first round can be implemented and applied to this revision. The Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme aims to assist farmers and growers to improve their efficiency and productivity through enabling investment in advanced technologies. The first round of the scheme saw £15 million committed by the UK Government to a range of energy efficient and business improvement equipment, to which further items have been added for this round. In announcing the scheme on 11 October 2018, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary said: We are already seeing the rewards of investing in agri-tech, with further funding of around £30m confirmed today for farmers to purchase hi-tech equipment. We know that by embracing technology – such as fruit ripeness spectrometers or calving detectors – farm businesses can become more efficient, productive and resilient.” The scheme will be very similar to that of the previous round with the addition of further technologies; the first round had a limited number of technologies that could be of use in horticulture. We hope and understand that more horticulture specific items will be included this time. Examples of technologies that could be funded include: • Precision farming technologies • Dehumidification controls • Weather station installations • Wireless and fibre optic network access points for data acquisition Should the format of the scheme be similar, then the minimum grant will be £3,000 and maximum £12,000 which funds up to 40% of project cost. A handbook will be published containing details of what is included and how to apply. GrowSave will publish details of the scheme via the website as soon as it is confirmed. £30m grant fund announced Jon Swain