A further £74 million is being made available to help farmers invest in improved slurry infrastructure to tackle water pollution, improve air quality and make better use of organic nutrients, the government has announced today (21 November 2023).
Applications are now open for the second round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant which forms part of a total £200 million being invested in infrastructure and equipment to tackle agricultural pollution from slurry over the agricultural transition period.
The second round has more than double the funding on offer than the first round of the scheme to help meet increased demand. Based on feedback from farmers, we are also making several improvements to the scheme, including how much storage pig farms can apply for, offering grants towards a slurry separator, and the option to retrofit covers onto existing stores.
Under the Slurry Infrastructure Grant, farmers can apply for grants of £25,000 to £250,000 to replace, expand, build extra and cover slurry stores, and fund equipment such as separators, reception pits and agitators.
The grant forms a key component of the government’s Plan for Water which sets out more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement to tackle every source of water pollution. It also delivers on vital commitments under the Environmental Improvement Plan to reduce air pollution, halt biodiversity decline and support recovery of protected sites.
Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:
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. 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.”
Livestock manure is a vital tool to increase organic matter in soil, supporting crop growth and helping farmers be more productive while reducing the need for artificial fertilisers.
Yet, 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 grant will enable more farmers to go beyond existing storage requirements, supporting better compliance with regulation and more effective use of organic nutrients. It is part of the government’s commitment to tackle nutrient pollution at source and grants will continue to be prioritised in areas near protected sites with ammonia pressures in nutrient neutrality catchments. This comes as Defra and Natural England continue to support developers and local planning authorities to mitigate the impact of nutrient pollution from wastewater from new housing developments and enable sustainable development to proceed.
Joe Dewhirst, a recipient of the first round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant, said:
The Slurry Infrastructure Grant is helping me replace my old earth banked slurry lagoon with a new precast circular slurry store, which will help me manage my slurry better and reduce emissions from the farm.
This grant comes ahead of the launch of two further rounds of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund in early 2024 and 2025, offering £21 million 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 taken forward by farmers in the government’s Countryside Stewardship scheme such as 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.