NPA welcomes Defra announcement on £250,000 Slurry Infrastructure grants
23rd Nov 2022 / By Alistair Driver
The NPA has welcomed Defra's announcement that farmers in England will soon be able to apply for grants of up to £250,000 to improve their slurry storage.
The first round of the Slurry Infrastructure grant, which will be administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and opens for applications on Tuesday December 6, will make £13 million available for livestock farmers to build six months of slurry storage capacity.
The online application window will run until January 31 2023. All applicants will be told whether they have been shortlisted for full application.
Guidance for the grant, which will run over multiple years, has been published today, with farmers able to apply for grants of £25,000 - £250,000 towards the cost of slurry stores, covers and supporting equipment. Grants can be used to build, replace or expand storage. They can also contribute towards a range of solutions like lagoons, steel and concrete ring tanks and large slurry bags.
The guidance explains what the grant offers, the scheme rules and how to apply. It also includes resources to help farmers plan their storage and information for Local Planning Authorities.
Depending on demand in the first round, applicants will be prioritised in areas where action is most needed to reduce water and air pollution from agriculture.
Defra said around half of slurry stores in England are not fit-for-purpose, forcing farmers to spread slurry when there is no crop need, wasting valuable fertiliser and causing preventable air and water pollution. This can also mean farms can end up failing to comply with their legal obligations for storage and spreading of slurry.
The grant is the result of months of co-design with farmers, including NPA and NFU, and experts from across sectors. It builds on support Defra already provides for slurry equipment and best practice through the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund and Countryside Stewardship, and will offer farmers an opportunity to build storage systems that exceed storage regulations, support spreading regulations, and improve nutrient use on farm.
Defra said enlarging and covering slurry stores will help reduce the 60% of nitrate pollution, 25% of phosphate pollution and 87% of ammonia emissions that come from agriculture, while also helping farmers to cut costs on artificial fertilisers, delivering long-term productivity benefits through improved nutrient management and soil health
Future-proof slurry storage
Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: “We know livestock farmers want to invest in slurry systems that support quality food production and protect the environment, but many are put off by high infrastructure costs and difficulty accessing finance.
“The Slurry Infrastructure grant will tackle this, helping farmers to invest in future-proof slurry storage that supports thriving farms while cutting pollution and allowing nature to prosper.”
NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson welcomed the 'long-awaited funding', which she said would help modernise or increase slurry storage capacity. "Although the scheme may not be perfect, it is the product of a successful collaboration between NPA and other farming organisations and Defra, and we hope it will offer more in future," she said.
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said: “The farming industry has already made significant progress, with a 75% reduction in serious pollution incidents year-on-year compared to 2000. Farmers want and can do more to cut pollution levels and this grant will go a long way to supporting that.
“I would encourage farmers to look at what’s on offer with this scheme, consider the requirements for their farm, and make their applications as quickly as possible and, if accepted, give themselves as much time as possible to make the necessary planning and building arrangements.”