Farmers have been encouraged to consider applying for the Farm Business Improvement Scheme grant which was launched on November 2.

The third Tranche of Tier 1 of the grant scheme has a wide number of options including a large section on grassland improvement.

Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots visited the farm of Simon Meredith and his father, Stephen, Tandragee who received funding from a previous FBIS Tier 1 scheme to highlight the scheme. That funding enabled the purchase of a 2000 gallon slurry tanker fitted with a dribble bar slurry distribution system which helped them to cut fertiliser costs and more efficiently finish their cattle off grass.

The Minister said: “I have allocated £7.5million for this tranche of Tier 1, which supports smaller scale investments to improve the sustainability of farm businesses. The scheme will support the purchase of equipment and machinery, costing from £5,000 to £30,000, from a list of eligible items. This will build upon the success of the previous two tranches of Tier 1, which provided £14.4million grant support to over 3,000 farmers and growers.

“I am delighted to see first-hand, a farm business making excellent use of technology that will undoubtedly ensure the future sustainability of this farm. Improving how we farm will have long term benefits for our environment and I encourage farmers to avail of such technologies and more to help develop their farm into a more efficient and environmentally aware business.

“I look forward to hearing many positive stories like this one from Stephen and Simon coming out of our new Tranche of Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme which opened on 2 November. I encourage all eligible who feel investment is needed at this time in their business to apply to the scheme as soon as possible.”

Simon Meredith explained how the funding has helped improve his business: “This purchase was facilitated by financial support through Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme - Capital and has made a huge difference to our grassland management. The dribble bar distribution system spreads the slurry between the blades of grass which means less nutrient loss; grass is not contaminated with slurry and there is less ammonia released into the atmosphere. An added bonus is the reduction in the smell from the slurry and knowing emissions have been reduced.”

He added: “As there is less nutrient loss and the grass leaf is not contaminated with the slurry there is a quicker recovery of the sward which means extra grazing days. Cattle are grazed in rotation, with slurry applied using the dribble bar reducing the requirement for artificial fertiliser.”

Commenting on the re-opening of Tier 1, FBIS - Capital, Dr Andrew Kerr, FBIS Contract Manager with Countryside Services, stated: "Farmers should carefully consider their investment options for modernisation of their farm businesses and when the scheme opens, should access a copy of the FBIS-Capital Explanatory Booklet and List of Eligible items which will available to download from the DAERA website or These documents detail who is eligible to apply, the support available, how to make an application and how applications will be assessed.

Dr. Kerr continued: “Given our involvement in the delivery of Tranches 1 and 2 of the FBIS we have an experienced and dedicated staff team available to deal with enquires from farmers and growers planning to make an application. Our contact number is 028 8778 9770.”