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Agritech – much more R&D than you might think

Agriculture is far from a static industry. Yes, there are certain fundamentals of husbandry that stand the test of time. But, increasingly, agriculture is becoming a high-tech industry. Read on for some R&D tax claim ideas.

Technology has the potential to solve many of the world’s agriculture problems. So many of the developments in agricultural technology are candidates for successful R&D tax credit claims.

One of the tests for qualifying R&D is that something is done in an appreciably improved or better way. Ground-breaking new technologies are being applied to solve problems and make farming processes appreciably better. This may be by using less toxic pesticides, using lower amounts of artificial fertilisers, more efficient use of machinery to save time and fuel, and prevent excessive wastage. The list is endless.

As an example, one of the most widely used herbicides is glyphosate. It has many great characteristics. It has been around since the 1970s.

However, there is increasing evidence that is may be carcinogenic, and damaging to amphibians, reptiles and birdlife when used near watercourses. We’d be hard-pressed to live without it, though, and so much research is currently going on to try and make it less toxic whilst maintaining its efficacy.

Recent technologies such as GPS, drones, robotics etc have revolutionised agriculture. They have made it possible to be far more accurate with cultivation and planting patterns, minimise labour costs, and maximise yields. All these technologies have been the subject of successful R&D claims, both for the original claims, and for adapting them for use in agriculture.

As populations increase the problems in feeding the world will only get more severe. And at the same time, there is more and more pressure to consider environmental issues, and coping with increased plant resistance to pesticides and animal resistance to antibiotics. The agri-tech sector is certainly a growth area (excuse the pun!) for the R&D expert.

Dr Andrew Jupp, who heads up our R&D team, has a degree in Agricultural Botany, a PhD in plant physiology, and worked as an agronomist before becoming a Chartered Accountant. He has a great insight into the problems affecting agriculture and is in a unique position to help those industries maximise their R&D claims.