Technological advancements and innovations are driving improvements in all areas of agriculture, from livestock producers to crop growers. Maintaining a competitive advantage in this evolving industry through research and development (R&D) helps to optimise processes and maximise efficiencies and yields, ensuring healthily returns on investment. There’s no question as to the benefits of R&D, regardless of the size of your business. So, what are the latest trends in innovation for the farming industry?
- Feed trials – What your livestock eat is important, and as such, research into feed and feed additives is a critical step to maximise efficiency. Rate of growth depends on food provided, and as it is costly to keep livestock longer than necessary, research into increasing growth rate through adjusting what is eaten is a smart investment. How and when to feed can also be optimised through R&D. This can be achieved through techniques such as adjusting feed according to the life cycle stage of livestock, trialling different types of feeds and additives and also finding methods which make it easier for the livestock to consume the feed provided.
- Trialling new fertilisers and composts – Just as feed is important for livestock, fertiliser is important for crops. When producing crops such as mushrooms, for example, arguably the most important aspect of growth and yield is the composition of the compost. Intuitively, this makes sense, but to gain a thorough understanding of how to maximise growth one needs to determine the details through R&D. Through research, supplements can be discovered which help to improve crops and, in turn, profit. Analysis into the chemical composition of soil, and determining key contributors to growth, will help maximise the efficiency of an operation.
- Healthy livestock – It may seem obvious, but ensuring the health of livestock is a key area for farmers. Having healthy animals is not only ethically beneficial, there are real world advantages such as improved immune response and higher resistance against diseases. R&D in a poultry setting includes varying the temperature and humidity of sheds, trialling different water treatments and investigating new heating and ventilation systems. These activities can improve the well-being of livestock and increase the efficiency of the business.
- Reducing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) – Put simply, the growing resistance of microorganisms to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics) is a serious threat to public health. Highly resistant microbes are sometimes referred to as “superbugs” and are becoming more common throughout the world. Software packages are available that let farmers and vets work together to record and analyse health and farm production data. Tailored recommendations can then be provided around hygiene, vaccinations and the use of antibiotics. This helps farmers to reduce medical bills, and also helps the global fight against AMR.
- Genomics – As the genomic testing of livestock becomes more accurate, it is becoming possible to predict the potential for an animal to have certain traits. For cattle, these traits include longevity, milk production levels, fertility and resistance to lameness and certain infections. This area of R&D enables farmers to have a better understanding of their animals, and helps them to maximise efficiency.
- Organic farming – More than just a fashionable trend, investment in organic farming has the potential to benefit both producers and consumers. With incentives to cut pesticides and focus on greener farming, R&D into how to achieve sustainable organic farming can give a competitive edge and help environmental health in one swing.
If you carry out any of these R&D activities then you may qualify for R&D tax credits.
Currently, for every £1 of qualifying R&D expenditure, a small to medium sized company registered in the UK can save 24.7p of corporation tax. Or if it does not have a corporation tax liability, it can cash losses in and receive a cash payment from HMRC at a rate of 14.5%.
Large companies in the UK can also claim R&D tax credits, as can companies registered in the Republic of Ireland.
The rules relating to R&D tax credits are complex and require specialist advice, which we can help you with. We have extensive experience of working with farming businesses to help them maximise the benefits from these very worthwhile tax incentives.
If you would like to know more about R&D Tax Credits, please get in touch to arrange a no-obligation discussion.