Farmers looking to make an application to the next round of the Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme are advised to do their research now, so they have the information they need ready for when the application window opens in early 2019.
The scheme offers grants of between £3,000 and £12,000 to support farmers in England who want to invest in specific pieces of agricultural equipment.
All the items included in the scheme have been identified as ones that will help farmers achieve improvements in either animal welfare, resource efficiency or nutrient management.
DEFRA has previously announced £30m will be available to fund the scheme in 2019.
“This scheme has always been popular and it is likely to be once again,” said farm consultant Ryan Lindley, from the Northallerton office of Strutt & Parker.
“It is a very straightforward online application process and people like that. The idea is that you choose from a list of specific bits of equipment, so you know exactly what you will be getting should your application be approved, with the grant covering up to 40% of the cost.”
Mr Lindley said while it was not possible for farmers to put in an application at the moment, now was an excellent time to do some research.
“Although the guidance notes detailing what equipment will be eligible have not yet been published, farmers can get a good idea of the items that are likely to be eligible by looking at the handbook from the last application round.
“One of the reasons why it is good to do your research now is the scheme rules state that grant recipients have 150 days from the date of their funding agreement to purchase, take delivery and pay for the grant-funded equipment and submit the grant claim. This proved problematic last time around as the supply and delivery times for some pieces of livestock-handling equipment proved to be longer than this.
“Our advice for anyone considering putting in an application is to start talking to manufacturers now about equipment that you might be seeking to buy with this funding support, to get a sense of lead-in times and payment terms. Although the rules clearly state you must not order or buy any of the items in your application before you have received confirmation it has been approved, by talking to manufacturers early you can get on their radar and get a sense of whether the timescales will be difficult.”
Items likely to be eligible for funding include a range of livestock-handling systems, crushes, calving detectors, weighing equipment, calf feeders, EID devices, pasture plate meters and electric scraper systems.
Arable farmers are likely to be able to apply for funds to help them buy precision-farming equipment, including GPS units, yield-mapping devices, variable rate controllers and direct or strip till drills.