A technological revolution is taking place in Dorset’s countryside. Breakthroughs in precision farming, satellite imaging, remote sensing, and low-impact agriculture are finding their way into farm businesses, large and small. The developments improve animal health and welfare, productivity and support the growth of supply chains from farm to fork.
Using this innovation on a Dorset farm requires significant investment and often considerable change in practice by farmers and landowners. Many are familiar with grants and payments from the Rural Development Programme (RDP) that could support investment in these areas; Basic Payment and Countryside Stewardship. Far fewer are aware of the community-led LEADER scheme and the fact that one of the LEADER priorities is specifically aimed at them; support to increase farm productivity.
Dorset’s Local Action Groups (LAGs) distribute LEADER grant funding across Dorset and have over 2.5 million pounds to spend in Dorset before the UK leaves the EU. LEADER is a well-established method of providing RDP funding at the local level. Businesses and organisations can apply for grants that create jobs, help businesses to grow and benefit the wider rural economy.
Northern and Southern Dorset LAGs have already funded a number of agricultural projects across Dorset and still have funds available. They have funded flagship projects; introducing GPS controlled systems into arable farming, monitoring and caring for dairy herds and sheep flocks but are now particularly keen to hear from farmers or groups of farmers looking to work collaboratively and introduce new technology across several farms.
Any application will have to demonstrate how it contributes to the growth of the businesses and preferably job creation. Applications are competitive and grants are particularly for businesses that want to invest in innovative practices and new technologies to help them become more sustainable and productive.
If you have a project idea or want to check you are in the LEADER area you can call one of the Dorset LEADER team or book a place at a 1 to 1 application surgery. Our next surgeries are at Verwood on the 13 November and Dorchester on the 28 November. Visit www.dorsetleader.org.uk or contact Ellie Makin on 01305 225525 to find out more. Find Dorset LEADER on facebook. Follow us on twitter.