Join the pathway to innovation

Researchers and agritech innovators are looking for farmers interested in taking part in on-farm trials as part of the Defra/UKRI funded Farming Innovation Pathways.

This £12M funding competition looks to support the development of novel innovations that will shape a productive, resilient, and sustainable agricultural sector.

Feasibility studies with costs up to £250,000 will test the viability of new ideas, and proposals must involve farmers, growers or producers to explore the potential of early-stage farm-focused solutions. These projects start in October 2021 and will last for 12-18 months.

Another strand of the funding competition supports industrial research, including the development of innovations to develop and support a productive, resilient, and sustainable agricultural sector. These projects start in October 2021 and will last for up to 24 months.

BOFIN members interested in being involved in four projects in particular are urged to come forward:

Grassweed control

This feasibility study, led by NIAB, will look at control of grassweeds using the Redekop Seed Control Unit. Not currently available in the UK, this unit fits to a combine and destroys more than 98% of harvestable weeds. The project will explore its efficacy and application.

A small number of units (around 4-10) will be imported and retrofitted by a UK dealer to combines for the 2021 and 2022 harvests. Participating farmers will get to use the unit free of charge and designate a trial area in their field in which efficacy of the unit will be assessed through post-harvest monitoring, carried out by NIAB.

Most suitable for combating ryegrass or brome grasses, anyone interested should email stating make and model of their combine.

High protein beans
Roasted bean flake

This feasibility study aims to test a unit developed by McArthur Agriculture designed for on-farm processing of dried field beans. The unit heats beans to a high temperature for a short period which significantly increases bypass protein and makes them suitable for replacing soya bean meal in high performance dairy diets.

The project will try out pre-commercial units that can be a small 200kg/hr unit or a large contractor unit processing 10t/hr into flakes, meal or whole roasted beans. Feeding studies will be carried out in parallel to verify the nutritional value of the processed product.

Participating farmers will get to try a unit for free in return for submitting samples and information on energy usage, ease of use, etc. This is most suitable for farmers who grow field beans and have a ready use for the processed product – an on-farm or neighbouring dairy herd, for example – and could also participate in the feeding studies.

Anyone interested should email with details of approx anticipated crop from harvest 2021 in tonnes, variety, and potential outlet for product.

Soil monitoring

This feasibility study will apply understanding and sensors developed for soil and carbon monitoring. Researchers at the University of Leeds are looking for interest in testing sensors and systems that monitor soil properties and provide metrics on aspects such as carbon capture.

Most suitable for those with an interest in climate change, and in particular if you use carbon-accounting software, this will involve designating areas in arable fields for detailed monitoring, preferably over a range of cultivation regimes. Anyone interested should email with brief details of anticipated arable cropping for 2021/22 season, cultivation regime(s) and carbon accounting tool used.

Bean foot rot

This industrial research project involves PGRO, University of Warwick and ADAS Bean YEN. The aim is to develop understanding of bean foot rot and develop a decision support tool.

Most suitable for those growing field beans, participating farmers will be enrolled in the Bean YEN in return for access to crops for sampling and monitoring. Anyone interested should email with brief details of anticipated crop for 2021/22 season.

Timelines and involvement

Initially, project partners are only looking for potential interest from farmers – there’s no obligation on those who show interest to be involved. Proposals for these projects are competitive must be submitted by 28 April with successful projects notified in mid June 2021.

For those projects going ahead, those farmers who showed an interest will be contacted in order to form a group. Level of involvement and resources required will vary, but it is envisaged any out-of-pocket expenses will be reimbursed. Farmers will also be actively involved in the design of the project, communication and delivery of results. These activities will be co-ordinated by BOFIN.

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