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Farmers looking to upgrade slurry management systems are invited to apply for a further £74m in grant funding, The second round of the Slurry... Defra launches £74m grants package for better slurry management

Farmers looking to upgrade slurry management systems are invited to apply for a further £74m in grant funding,

The second round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant is the latest tranche of £200m being invested by Defra to tackle agricultural pollution from livestock waste as the government seeks to secure a more sustainable future for farming.

Livestock producers can apply for grants of £25,000 to £250,000 to invest in infrastructure and equipment that will tackle water pollution, improve air quality and make better use of organic nutrients.

The second round of funding is worth more than twice as much as the first round. Grants can be used to replace, expand, build extra and cover slurry stores – as well as purchasing equipment such as separators, reception pits and agitators

Storage capacity

Following feedback from farmers, Defra has also increased the amount of storage capacity pig farms can apply for, offering grants towards a slurry separator and the option to retrofit covers onto existing stores.

The grant forms a component of the government’s Plan for Water, which aims to tackle water pollution. It also delivers on Environmental Improvement Plan commitments to halt biodiversity decline and support recovery of protected sites.

Farm minister Mark Spencer said: “Our Slurry Infrastructure Grant is helping farmers to invest in infrastructure which is often costly but can deliver big benefits for our waterways and air quality, while also cutting their input costs.

”We’re indebted to farmers who work day in day out to ensure we have great British food on our tables while protecting and shaping our countryside.  It’s vital they are supported to make the environmental improvements I know so many want to make.”

Organic matter

Defra says livestock manure is a vital tool to increase soil organic matter. It supports crop growth and helps improve farm productivity while reducing the need for artificial fertilisers. But using slurry can be challenging.

“Spreading slurry when there is no crop or soil requirement, often due to insufficient storage capacity, can cause significant pollution in rivers and waterways, as well as wasting a valuable resource and increasing costs for farmers.”

Open slurry stores and broadcast spreading also release large amounts of ammonia which harms vulnerable species and damages human health.

The funding aims to encourage more effective use of organic nutrients. It is part of the government’s commitment to tackle nutrient pollution from agriculture at source.

Defra says grants will continue to be prioritised in areas near protected sites with ammonia pressures in nutrient neutrality catchments.

The grant in detail

The Slurry Infrastructure Grant highlights the government’s expectation that farmers who want to receive public money should be required to deliver public benefits in return.

The slurry scheme has many more requirements and restrictions than the soon-to-be defunct Basic Payment Scheme, which paid farmers for doing little more than completing an annual claim form and abiding by some simple rules.

The slurry grant is competitive. There are limits on how the money can be spent. And if oversubscribed, the Rural Payments Agency will prioritise projects that have the greatest environmental outcomes based on their location.

It comes ahead of two further rounds of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund in early 2024 and 2025. These will offer £21m for smaller items of equipment to help farmers manage slurry, from nutrient testing kits to low emission spreaders.

The new funding builds on work already being undertaken by farmers in the government’s Countryside Stewardship scheme. This includes separating dirty water and effluent from rainwater through roofing over manure stores to prevent contamination. Farmers can also apply for complementary options under the Sustainable Farming Incentive, including support to produce a Nutrient Management Plan, establish multi-species winter cover and buffer strips.

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