The government has announced a new £22m fund for tech to help UK farmers cut down on pollution, minimise waste and produce more food.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced the first 31 projects to receive the dedicated Transforming Food Production Challenge, a £90 million Industrial Strategy fund to help meet the needs of a growing population and target net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Projects will benefit from a share of £22.4 million to develop their innovative projects, with industry partners contributing a further £8.8 million. Rootwave, in Warwickshire will use a £690,000 grant to use electricity instead of chemicals to kill weeds via the roots avoiding damage to crops

Tuberscan, in Lincolnshire, will use £391,000 to develop ground penetrating radar, underground scans and AI to monitor potato crops and identify when they are ready to harvest. This technology could increase the usable crop by an estimated 5 - 10 per cent and reduce food waste with minimal extra cost

aiScope, a project based in Sheffield, will use a £1 million grant to apply AI and analysis to tackle the common cereal weed, Blackgrass, potentially saving farmers £580 million a year.

“The projects announced today will ensure we lead the way in supporting our vital farming industry, delivering high quality food for consumers while reducing the wider environmental impact,” said Science Minister Chris Skidmore.

“This is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy, investing in ground-breaking projects, creating highly skilled jobs and providing a cleaner, greener future for generations to come.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, added: “It is predicted that 60 per cent more food will be needed worldwide by 2050 to feed the increasing global population.

“To do this we need to produce food in more resilient, sustainable and efficient ways. This means reducing emissions and pollution, minimising waste and improving our soil.”