Barclays Agri-Tech £250m fund
Sustainability Through Agri-Tech will also provide farmers with access to £250 million which is available to support their business to become carbon net-zero through Agri-Tech solutions.
In a survey of 209 Northern Irish farmers from a larger sample of 1,000 across the UK, eight in ten (79 per cent) say that they believe they could be carbon neutral by 2035, five years ahead of the 2040 target set by the National Farmers Union (NFU) for England and Wales. One in seven (14 per cent) believe that they have already reached this goal, while 73 per cent said they were thinking about how to make their businesses more sustainable in the wake of the pandemic.
More than three-quarters of Northern Irish respondents (77 per cent) also said becoming greener will increase their farm’s competitiveness after the UK has left the EU, indicating Brexit could accelerate their transition to becoming carbon neutral.
Barclays has also uncovered a growing appetite among the Northern Irish population for carbon neutral foods, with research indicating that the average consumer there would pay £235.56 per year on top of their shopping basket totals for more sustainable produce. When taking the whole population of Northern Ireland into account, this totals over 340 million pounds of additional spend.
When farmers were asked what investments they were making to become more sustainable, more than a quarter (29 per cent) in Northern Ireland said that they had or plan to plant more trees or hedgerows, while 26 per cent had spent or are planning to invest in Agri-Tech to become more efficient. Northern Irish respondents also suggested that they plan to or are improving their waste and slurry management (22 per cent), while 19 per cent are considering or already are investing in wind turbines and 17 per cent in solar power.
Over three quarters of Northern Irish farmers (76 per cent) said that the UK needs a more resilient food system to cope with rising temperatures, and 71 per cent revealed sustainability and business efficiency to be their farm’s top priorities.
Richard Lilburn, owner of Brookvale Farm in Dromore, said: “We use a wide variety of Tech on our farm – from robots to milk our cows, backscratchers and hoof scrapers to keep them healthy and happy, to automated feeding systems and motion sensors which use algorithms to monitor their health. Happier cows are healthier cows and the technology we are using on our farm means they produce more milk, so that’s good for business.
“We have plans to become carbon net zero through planting trees, installing solar panels and hopefully investing in an anaerobic digester, but farms like ours do need help to achieve this. Farming more efficiently and more sustainably will ultimately help all aspects of farm business and life and Technology will always be able to improve how we operate.”
More information on how to apply the £250m available from www.barclays.co.uk/agriculture-sustainability