Farmers in Northern Ireland have been given more time to submit applications to Tier 2 of the £250,000 (€289,800) Farm Business Improvement Scheme.

The deadline for applications has been extended to 4.00pm on March 10 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The department decided to extend the deadline due to Tier 2 applications for the scheme requiring substantial time and commitment to complete on account of the projects being on a large scale.

According to the department, this extension will allow farmers and growers who are currently working on their applications extra time to complete them, with particular emphasis on their business plans.

In addition, it will allow applicants to fully engage with their banks or lending institutions and work towards meeting the additional supporting information or permissions required for the application process, DAERA believes.

Applications to the scheme opened just before Christmas and were originally scheduled to close at 4.00pm on February 24.

A number of tools and additional information on the Scheme is available on the DAERA website to assist prospective applicants in examining the viability of potential projects.

The focus of the Tier 2 is on transformational investment in projects costing in excess of £30,000 (€35,500).

Funding is provided at a grant rate of 40% of eligible costs, with £250,000 (€289,800) the maximum grant available under the scheme.

Any applicants to the second tier of the scheme must propose their projects through a business plan which will be assessed against a number of key themes.

These themes will include the contribution to sustainable growth, environment, weather resistance and climate change, animal and plant health, occupational health and safety, as well as production and resource efficiency.

The second tier is is primarily for construction projects and the purchase of higher value equipment linked to the needs in the farmer’s business plan.