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£45m of grant schemes for farmers to open soon

Like buses, after a period of quiet for grant schemes aimed at the farming sector, last week Defra announced four that are opening soon.


The £45 million in competitions and grants opening in the coming weeks are designed to support farmers foster innovation, boost productivity and improve animal welfare.

Summary of the competitions and grants available

Fund Name of scheme Aimed at Overview Opening
1. The Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund Farmers Grants up to £100,000 to prepare nature projects that will attract investment from the private sector from a total £5 million 11 December 2023
2. Farming Innovation Programme – research starter competition Farmers, growers and foresters in England Funding to get innovative new projects off the ground, if they have the potential to move the agricultural sector to net zero. 18 December 2023
3. Farming Investment Fund – improving farm productivity grant


Businesses – presumably farming businesses ·        Capital grants of £25,000 – £500,000 towards robotic and automatic equipment, with further funding potentially available depending on levels of interest

·        Grants of between £15,000 and £100,000 towards solar equipment which can be fitted onto rooftops and float on irrigation reservoirs, helping increase energy resilience and take-up of renewable energy generation on farms

January 2024
4. Farming Innovation Programme – large R&D competition


Businesses – presumably farming businesses Industrial research or experimental development projects.


15 January 2024

More information on the schemes

Fund 1. The Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF)

The pre-launch guidance for this the third round of NEIRF projects is at link.

Key factors include:

  1. This third round is specifically to support farmers in accessing nature markets
  2. Nature projects are those that:
    1. help farmers achieve one or more natural environmental outcomes from the Environmental Improvement Plan
    2. have the ability to help farmers produce revenue from ecosystem services to attract and repay investment
    3. produce an investment model that can be scaled up and reproduced by farmer
  3. Examples of ecosystem services that could produce revenue include:
    1. selling carbon units from woodland creation or peatland restoration, using the Woodland Carbon Codeor Peatland Code
    2. selling biodiversity units from a habitat bank, using the Natural England biodiversity offsetting metric
    3. selling ‘catchment services’ (such as improved water quality and natural flood management benefits) resulting from natural environment improvements
  4. Individual grants of up to £100,000 are available to each project to develop to the point that they are ready to attract private sector investment
  5. Eligible expenditure could include:
    1. Internal organisational capacity
    2. Specialist consultancy and technical advice to design and structure an investment model that will produce revenue or cost savings

More details of NEIRF scheme and the application process can be found at link.

Fund 2. Farming Innovation Programme – research starter competition – link

Fund 3. Farming Investment Fund – improving farm productivity grant – more information on this is expected at some point in December.

Fund 4. Farming Innovation Programme – large R&D competition – link

The Farming Investment Fund could be the most interesting to many of our farming clients, we will share details of this as soon as they are released.

FEATURING: Brian Harvey
As head of PKF Francis Clark’s agricultural sector group, Brian manages a dedicated team of agricultural accountants and tax advisers. He hails from a Cornish… read more
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