The UK government has allocated £12.5 million to 19 innovative projects focused on the development of automation and robotic technologies aimed at enhancing productivity, food security, and sustainable farming practices.
The announcement, made by Farming Minister Mark Spencer, is part of the broader initiative that has seen over £120 million invested in industry-led agricultural and horticultural research and development since 2021.
The funding is facilitated through the Farming Futures Automation and Robotics competition, an integral component of the £270 million Farming Innovation Programme (FIP) managed by Innovate UK.
The projects receiving funding are diverse, including the development of a system for predicting and improving the quality of strawberry yields, digital mapping and monitoring of vineyards using drones, robots, and sensors, and enhancing the accuracy and reliability of navigation systems for field-based robotic vehicles.
These investments are aligned with the commitments made at the Farm to Fork Summit, underscoring the government's support for innovation in agriculture.
The funding aims to bolster the UK’s position as a global leader in agri-tech, promoting the development of technologies that not only enhance productivity but also contribute to environmental sustainability.
Florian Richter, CEO of Muddy Machines LTD, and Oli Hilbourne, CEO and Co-Founder at Outfield Technologies, expressed their appreciation for the government’s funding support, highlighting the pivotal role of such backing in advancing commercial operations and addressing specific industry challenges.
Dr. Katrina Hayter of Innovate UK emphasized the significance of robotics and automation in meeting the demands of a growing global population while adhering to sustainable practices.