Farming Futures: Nutrient Management Phase 1

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £15m to develop innovative solutions for nutrient management.

Opportunity Details

When

Registration Opens

29/05/2024

Registration Closes

24/07/2024

Award

Strand 1 projects (feasibility) must have total costs of £200k-£500k, and strand 2 projects (industrial research) must have total costs of £500k-£1m. For both strands, up to 70% of these costs can be covered by the grant, depending on business size.

Organisation

DEFRA
Innovate UK

Share this opportunity

Find out more and apply (strand 1, £200k-£500k)

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will invest up to £15 million in innovation projects. This funding is part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme, which is a partnership with and delivered by Innovate UK.

The aim of this competition is to fund collaborative development projects with ambitious solutions to address the challenges related to nutrient management in soils and water associated with agricultural livestock and crop production. The solutions provided will enable sustainable and resilient farming.

Nutrient management involves using nutrients, both organic and manufactured, as efficiently as possible to maximise plant uptake, crop growth and yield. It also includes applying nutrients where and when they can be best utilised by plants, thereby combating run-off and soil erosion. Good nutrient management should increase productivity whilst protecting the environment by minimising nutrient loss.

Projects should align with the following Defra targets and commitments:

  • the Environment Improvement Plan to reduce nitrogen, phosphate and sediment pollution by 40% by 2038
  • the Clean Air Strategy to reduce emissions of ammonia by 16% by 2030
  • to achieve Net Zero by 2050 where the agriculture contribution is 33%

Your proposal must be able to demonstrate how the project will benefit farmers and growers in England.

This competition is split into 2 strands:

  • Strand 1: Farming Futures: Nutrient Management Phase 1 – Feasibility (costs of £200k-£500k; can be led by business, academic institution or RTO)
  • Strand 2: Farming Futures: Nutrient Management Phase 1 – Industrial Research (costs of £500k-£1m; must be business-led)

It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct strand for your project. Innovate UK Business Connect’s Agrifood team can advise on which strand is more appropriate if required.

It is proposed that Innovate UK will run an additional competition, Farming Futures: Nutrient Management Phase 2 – Industrial Research, in Autumn 2024. This Phase 2 competition will have higher project costs than can be supported through the Phase 1 competition.

  • All projects in this competition must be collaborative.

    To lead a project in Strand 1 (feasibility), your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size, a UK registered academic institution, or a UK registered research and technology organisation (RTO). You must collaborate with other UK registered organisations. If the lead organisation is an academic institution or an RTO it must collaborate with at least one eligible grant claiming business of any size.

    To lead a project in Strand 2 (industrial research), your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size, and must collaborate with other UK registered organisations.

    An organisation or business can only lead on one application in each strand of the competition but can be included as a collaborator in two further applications.

    If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications across both strands.

  • Your project must:

    • have total costs between £200,000 and £500,000 for strand 1, or between £500,000 and £1million for strand 2
    • start by 1 January 2025
    • last between 12 and 24 months for strand 1, or between 24 and 36 months for strand 2
    • be able to demonstrate how the project will benefit farmers or growers in England
    • carry out all of its project work in the UK
    • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • The aim of this competition is to fund collaborative research and development projects with ambitious solutions to address the challenges related to nutrient management in soils and water associated with agricultural livestock and crop production. The solutions provided will enable sustainable and resilient farming.

    Nutrient management involves using nutrients (both organic and manufactured) as efficiently as possible to maximise plant uptake, crop growth and yield. It also includes applying nutrients where and when they can be best utilised by plants, thereby combating run-off and soil erosion. Good nutrient management should increase productivity whilst protecting the environment by minimising nutrient loss.

    Projects must develop ambitious new solutions that:

    • improve soil and water based nitrogen and phosphate nutrient management
    • provide a positive impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions
    • are applicable to manage nutrients from farm crop waste, from farm animal waste, or from commercial chemical and artificial fertilisers
    • consider industrial and domestic wastes that are already used in agriculture, but the focus is on farm wastes (new waste streams are not included)
    • lead to improvement of ground and river water quality
    • reduce nitrogen, phosphate and sediment run-off and pollution

    Some examples of approaches that may be supported under this theme include but are not restricted to, developing products including:

    • novel organic material treatment technologies, for example, slurry concentration or additives
    • technologies that allow for more cost-effective transport of products derived from organic materials, for example, pelletisation or dewatering
    • extraction or partitioning technologies for key nutrients from organic material, for example, macro and micronutrients
    • technologies for the removal of contaminants
    • improving our understanding of bio stimulants, and how increased nutrient uptake could reduce amounts of nutrient applied to crops
    • emerging technologies to treat manures and create incomes streams from these products, for example, gas capture, fuel pellets, growing media, building materials
    • developing innovative spreading and application technologies to increase productivity and accuracy and reduce environmental impact
    • adapted fertilisers which reduce risk of leaching and run off
    • improving water quality through recovery of waste materials

    Projects could develop ambitious solutions that:

    • process farm waste to extract biomaterials or add value if this reduces the nutrient load to soil and water
    • process farm waste to extract or to optimise nutrient levels of Nitrogen and Phosphate
    • enable better targeted application of nutrients and avoid surplus application
    • improve handling, treatment and storage of on–farm wastes
    • improve plant nutrient demand and uptake techniques, including bio stimulants
    • improve anaerobic digestion processes and improve the processing of digestate to optimise its nutrient quality for accurate and precise distribution
    • improve ability and efficiency to transport nutrients from farm waste from areas of surplus to areas of demand
    • provide opportunities through livestock feed and diet amendments to reduce nutrients in waste streams
    • provide opportunities through circular economy approaches to recover nutrients and useful products from farm waste
  • Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

    Livestock

    • monogastric
    • ruminant

    Plant

    • broadacre: cereals, root crops, grassland
    • horticulture: field based and specialist growers
    • fruit: top fruit, stone fruit and soft fruit
    • vineyard
    • protected cropping: glass and polytunnel systems
    • controlled environment and vertical farming systems

    Your project could focus on technologies including, but not limited to the following:

    • automation and machines
    • sensing devices and analysis systems to manage and control a wider process
    • animal and plant breeding including precision breeding of plants
    • soil, water or air treatments
    • waste treatment processes
    • storage methods or treatment of farm waste to enable efficient transport to other regions
    • artificial fertilisers and application methods
    • processes to extract specific nutrients
    • processes to turn farm waste into useful materials
    • processes to turn farm waste to energy
  • An online briefing for both strands will be held at 11:30am on Thursday 30 May: click here for the joining link.

    A consortia building event, again covering both strands, will be held online on Wednesday 5 June: click here to register for a place.

    If you would like help to find a collaboration partner or advice on which strand to apply for, contact Innovate UK Business Connect’s Agrifood team.

Related Events and Recordings

Wed
5
Jun
2024

Farming Innovation Programme: Farming Futures R&D Fund Nutrient Management Q&A and Consortium Building event

14.00 - 16.00 | Online

Register for this event
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