Slurry producers face deadline

Slurry, Eve Communications
PHOTO: Eve Communications

With less than three weeks to go until applications for the slurry infrastructure grant closes, experts are advising farmers to consider their long-term plans before applying.
The grant application window opened in December, providing financial support to beef, dairy and pig farmers looking to replace or expand their existing slurry stores.
As the government looks to encourage more environmentally sustainable farming practices, it has recognised that farmers will need support to help them bring their slurry storage systems up to modern standards.
“Farmers are meant to have six months’ storage, but the government has realised that many don’t, because a store that size is expensive to build,” said Carter Jonas Associate Gillian Wilsher.
“So this is their way of providing a helping hand. However, if this is the carrot, then I imagine in five years’ time it may be replaced by a big stick if you don’t take them up on this offer.”
The grant is based on standard cost figures which have been calculated to represent approximately 50% of the market cost with grants ranging between £25,000 and £250,000.
Wilsher advises farmers to carefully consider where the storage will be located, taking in to account any plans for development in the future.
“Is it easy to contain should the tank fail or is there a watercourse nearby which could be polluted?” she said. “The easiest place is not necessarily the most appropriate.”  
“Consider whether your drainage networks are working efficiently to keep clean and dirty water separate. If your clean water drains are also entering the slurry store this will increase the capacity required significantly and water down your slurry, increasing spreading costs to apply the same amount of nutrients. A nutrient management plan must be in place based on the results of soil testing.”
“As the price of fertiliser has increased significantly, the value of slurry is also a significant consideration.”
As the grants will be paid in arrears the business will need to fund the entire project initially.
Demand for the scheme is expected to be high; if oversubscribed, Defra will prioritise those projects which will yield the biggest environmental benefits.
The selected farmers will then be invited to submit a full application, for which planning permission must be secured.