Andy Mathews and Tom Rees have improved efficiency through a grant scheme

Two Welsh growers have improved the efficiency of their enterprises after securing capital grant scheme funding to buy new equipment.

Applications submitted by Tom Rees and Andy Matthews were among those that were successful in the last round of the Horticulture Development Scheme.

With a new window for the scheme now open until 12 January 2024, they urged commercial horticultural producers in Wales to apply.

For Mr Rees, the grant meant he could invest in potato harvesting equipment to speed up operations for his 2023 harvest.

He grows potatoes in rotation with combinable cereals in Pembrokeshire and had tapped into the grant scheme to get 40% funding to buy a triple tiller and a belt planter.

Investing in a tiller that also ridges eliminated the need for this to be done as a separate job. “I can now get both jobs done in one pass,’’ said Mr Rees, of Dudwell Farm, near Haverfordwest.

He also secured a 40% grant to buy a high output belt planter which has made the job of planting quicker and more efficient.

“I would never have been able to get both these pieces of equipment in one go last year without the Horticulture Development Scheme grant,’’ said Tom.

With one eye now on on-farm grading, he may apply for a grant in the latest window to facilitate this.

Vegetable and fruit producer Andy Matthews used the scheme to part-fund new equipment to irrigate his pick-your-own soft fruit at Aberbran Fawr, near Brecon.

Mr Matthews had switched production to tabletop and pots because of disease pressure and that required irrigation.

He initially bought the equipment he needed second hand because of cost constraints, but there were some issues with this, including blockages to the drip feeders which resulted in some plants dying or experiencing a setback.

He applied to the Horticulture Development Scheme for a grant to help fund new equipment with a more reliable drip-feeding system. A new pump and control system were also part-funded.

“It would have been tough buying this equipment without the 40% funding because, at two hectares, we are quite a small enterprise, but we need similar equipment to businesses that are doing things on a much bigger scale,’’ said Mr Matthews.

“The grant was a game-changer, having it enable us to do everything in one hit.’’

The Horticulture Development Scheme, part of Wales’ green recovery from Covid-19, was established to support existing commercial horticultural producers to develop their businesses through investment in new equipment and technology that offer clear and quantifiable benefits to their horticultural enterprise.

It is relevant to horticultural businesses that want to sustainably expand production, diversify into new crops, improve production efficiency and enhance product quality, as well as enter new markets, increase local employment and support the rural economy.

The latest round of funding has an indicative budget of £1m.

Further details can be found at