More than £14 million is being made available for the farming sector to drive innovation and develop new practices to boost productivity and sustainability, the Government has said.

It is part of a £600 million investment over three years, with competitions open to farmers, growers, foresters, research organisations and agricultural businesses to allow them to collaborate on new ideas and solutions.

Some of this funding has already gone to projects to improve yield of soft fruit, battery-operated robots harvesting asparagus, and using ultraviolet disinfectant in dairy and poultry.

There are two new research and feasibility competitions open in the Farming Innovation Programme.

Farming minister Mark Spencer said: "These competitions are all about encouraging collaborations between farmers and growers on the one hand, and research organisations and industry on the other, to help bring ideas from the planning stage into practice.

"The success of the previous competition rounds and the broad scope of ideas coming forward showcase the range of possibilities available for driving up productivity and solving some of the industry's biggest challenges.

"I encourage everyone to take a look at what's on offer in the latest competitions and apply."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Wednesday it has published guidance for the third round of its £10 million Small R&D Partnerships competition, which aims to help businesses develop a farming product or service and commercialise it.

There is also a £4.5 million Feasibility Studies competition which is to support businesses or researchers while they test ideas that could improve the productivity, sustainability and resilience of farming and help the move to net zero.

Previous winners include a study to identify fungal strains that are more resistant to pests to help reduce the use of pesticides.

Defra advises applicants to read the guidance ahead of the competitions opening - August 14 for the Small R&D Partnerships and September 18 for the Feasibility Studies.

Katrina Hayter, executive director for the healthy living and agriculture domain at Innovate UK, said: "We look forward to supporting the next round of applicants and identifying promising partnerships that hold the potential to address the sustainability, efficiency, and net zero challenges confronting the UK's agrifood industry.

"Feasibility studies mark the initial stage in researching an idea that could improve farming, while small R&D partnerships are a vital step to empowering businesses to forge novel farming products and services, paving the way towards successful commercialisation.

"By fostering collaborations between farmers, growers, agri-businesses and researchers, these partnerships become the driving force behind transforming innovative solutions into practical applications."

Since opening in October 2021, the Government has launched 16 competitions with £123 million given out in funding, Defra said.