Warwickshire Rural Hub
Here is a flavour of some of the most recent industry news stories. To read all news posts please click on one of the categories above.
Second round of Slurry Infrastructure Grant opens
Defra has announced that farmers can apply for the new round of the Slurry Infrastructure grant. £74 million of grant funding is available in Round 2, which is more than double the funding offered in Round 1. This grant will help farmers invest in improved slurry infrastructure to tackle water pollution, improve air quality and make better use of organic nutrients. Farmers can apply for grants of £25k – £250k towards different types of slurry store, slurry store cover and supporting equipment. Several amendments have been made to the scheme following feedback from industry after the first round. These include an increase in the amount of storage pig farmers can apply for; offering grants towards a slurry separator; and the option to retrofit covers onto existing stores. Read the full scheme guidance and what’s on offer on this page.
Highlights from the Autumn 2023 statement
The headlines from the Chancellor’s Autumn 2023 statement include:
Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) will be abolished and the main rate of Class 4 NICs will reduce from 9% to 8% from 6 April 2024.
Full Expensing for companies will be made permanent.
The R&D Expenditure Credit (RDEC) and SME schemes will be merged into a single scheme from 1 April 2024.
The qualifying period for Investment Zone and Freeport benefits will be doubled from five to ten years.
The main rate of Class 1 employee NICs will reduce from 12% to 10% from 6 January 2024
Read more in this update from Ellacotts.
Capital funding available for rural businesses and communities in Stratford on Avon District
There is an opportunity for rural businesses, community facilities and circular economy projects to secure some capital funding from the 2023-2024 Rural England Prosperity Funding (REPF) to spend fully before the end of March 2024. Stratford-on-Avon District Council still have some funding remaining for the 2023-2024 financial year and are looking for expressions of interest and applications by Friday 15th December at 1700. The funding awarded to the successful applicants is likely to be made available at the beginning of February 2024, allowing a two month spend window before the end of this financial year.
If you have a plan and need some funding for some capital equipment which can be spend during this financial year, please contact email@example.com and cc in firstname.lastname@example.org before the deadline to assess the fit for the funding call.
Read more about the Prosperity Funding on this page.
Tips for improving mental wellbeing on farm – take part in a webinar on 8 December
Friday 8 December at 1.00pm
During this webinar organised by RASE Farm of the Future, you will hear about the the practical ways to improve mental health and well-being on the farm. Speakers will share insights, tips and strategies to help prioritise the mental health of you and your team while managing the demands of farming life. Guest speakers will be dairy farmer Sophie Gregory, Sarah Tomlinson from TBAS, Paul Harris from REAL-Success and Alex Phillimore from FCN. David Rose from the Royal Agricultural University will be chairing the session. Register to attend the webinar on this page.
Hear whether battery storage is worth considering and the questions to ask
Energy Now has organised a webinar on 29 November at 5.00pm entitled: Going beyond simple solar: how to optimise renewable energy on your farm. Jack Peck, Business Development Manager at Wattstor and David Stevenson owner and Managing Director of Mole Energy will aim to dispel a few myths and set out a clear route forward for the next phase of renewable energy in agriculture: battery energy storage. Together they will cover the following points:
• Retrofitting batteries to farms with existing solar & wind installations
• Expanding your solar installation in the post FIT era
• How to determine if your land / farm can benefit from battery storage
• What is load shifting and why is it key to maximising returns from solar?
• DC battery solutions – when grid constraints become a limiting factor
Register for the webinar on this link.
Watch a webinar for livestock and grassland farmers on SFI and Animal Health and Welfare Pathway
On Monday 20 November at 4.00pm, Defra will host a webinar for livestock and grassland farmers to learn more about the funding opportunities available in England. The webinar will focus on the Sustainable Farming Incentive and the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway in particular. Colleagues from the Rural Payments Agency will be available to answer questions. The 1-hour session will be recorded and a link to the recording will be made available after 20 November. Read more and register to attend the webinar on this Defra blog post.
All the guidance on de-linked payments
The Rural Payments Agency is replacing the BPS in England with delinked payments from 2024. The RPA will pay delinked payments annually between 2024 to 2027 and the amount paid will decrease each year, with 2027 being the final year of delinked payments. To receive delinked payments, you must be eligible for BPS payments in 2023 (with some exceptions on inherited land) and have a reference amount. The reference amount will normally be the average BPS payment in the reference period, which is the BPS 2020 to 2022 scheme years. If you did claim in 2023, but did not claim BPS in the reference period, you will only have a reference amount if BPS reference data has been transferred to you.
The RPA has started writing to farmers about the transition from BPS payments to de-linked payments. To read all the guidance on how de-linked payments are calculated, how they affect different types of businesses and how they are treated for tax purposes. please visit this page.
Sign up for flood alerts with the Environment Agency
The Environment Agency is urging people to check their risk of flooding and sign up for free flood alerts and warnings. The service will tell you:
- current flood warnings or alerts
- river, sea, groundwater and rainfall levels
- your flood risk in the next 5 days
If you want to know if there’s surface water flooding (also known as ‘flash flooding’) in your area you will need to contact your local council. Visit this page to learn more.
Electricity System Operator Demand Flexibility Service is set to return this winter
Ofgem has approved the return of the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) – a tool that helped ensure security of supply last winter and saw over 1.6 million homes and businesses rewarded for adjusting their non-essential energy demand. The DFS is expected to launch in early November and works by paying members for turning down their electricity use during times of peak demand on the electricity system. There will be several test events so that customers can be sure they will have a chance to participate and earn rewards of up to £3 per kilowatt hour, depending on provider offerings.
Participants need to have a smart meter installed and must also check that their supplier is taking part in the scheme. Read more here.
Watch how to apply for an SFI agreement
Defra has produced a video showing farmers how to apply for an SFI agreement. Visit this page on YouTube to watch the video.
Save 35% on GWCT farmer membership
Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust is offering farmers a 35% discount on its membership fee, reducing the subscription to £51 annually or £4.25 monthly. Benefits include:
Access to dozens of informative wildlife and land management courses as well as important educational material and legislation updates
Invites to a variety of exciting events taking place throughout the year
The chance to visit our pioneering Allerton Project Farm at Loddington for a guided tour
Free copies of Gamewise, our feature-packed magazine produced 3 times a year
Regular email updates containing all our latest news and research findings
You can join your local County Group and get directly involved
Optional daily email news alerts containing all the latest conservation news
Visit this page to read more and sign up.
How to count earthworms
Earthworms engineer the soil environment, help with carbon cycling, improve water infiltration and plant productivity, and are an important food source for native birds. They are also a biological indicator of soil health. The best time to count earthworm populations is early in the spring, or after the soil has wetted up in the autumn. Counting earthworms when it is warm and after rain often provides the best population estimates. Avoid taking samples when the soil is very dry. Soil should have been wet for a few days prior to sampling. When assessing earthworm numbers, it is important to take more than one sample from within each field; 10 samples per field is ideal. Comparisons between cultivated parts of the field and margins can be useful. Visit this page on the AHDB website for instructions on how to count your earthworms.
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Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors
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Environmental Steering Group Members
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Meehal Grint, Kings Seeds
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
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Zoe Burrows, Rookery Farm
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