Indicator farms...

Defra launches Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS)

Defra has announced the launch of a new grant scheme to help farming, forestry and horticultural businesses in England to become more efficient at using resources. The FFIS aims to help improve farm profitability whilst reducing the impact the business makes on the environment. Grants are available for capital items, with a grant rate of up to 40% in lowland areas and 50% in upland areas. The minimum grant is £2,500 with a maximum of £25,000 per project and there is a total of £20 million available under this scheme between now and December 2013.

To be eligible for grant support, projects must fall within one of the following areas:

• Nutrient Management: Improvements in use of farm manures and slurries so as to improve soil quality and reduce reliance on artificial fertiliser.
Eligible items include slurry injectors, mechanical slurry separation systems and Global Positioning Systems.

• Energy Efficiency: Projects to reduce or recover energy use on farm resulting in a reduction of farm energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions. 
Eligible items include heat exchangers, gel coolers and ice builders.

• Water Resource Management: Rainwater harvesting, recycling and reuse systems to reduce reliance on mains water. 
Eligible items include pipework specifically to intercept and divert roof water to a storage facility, rainwater harvesting equipment.

• Animal Health and Welfare: Projects which bring about significant improvements in farm animal health and welfare.

• Forestry: Projects which improve the economic value of forests through the efficiencies of improved processing and adding value. 
Eligible items include timber processors, forwarders, forestry trailers, tractors mounted forestry grabs.

If you are considering a project that will fall into one of these categories then it is worth investigating the potential to get some grant funding. The first round of the scheme closes on 17 January 2012 and more information on how to apply for the scheme can be found here