Farming Transformation Fund – Slurry Infrastructure grant

First published: 07 December 2022

An image of an on-farm slurry store

Funding is being made available to farmers in England to help them overcome current significant financial barriers to investing in slurry storage on farm. Applications opened on 6 December 2022 and closes on 31 January 2023. 

Defra has published the first full details about its Slurry Infrastructure Grant. Part of the Farming Transformation Fund, the initial online checker will open on 6 December 2022 and close on 31 January 2023.

On this page you will find information on:

Before you complete the online checker, you must have a good understanding of your current and future slurry storage requirements. Visit: Slurry infrastructure grant online checker | GOV.UK

What is the purpose of the grant?

The Slurry Infrastructure grant helps dairy, beef, pig farmers in England invest in future-proofed slurry infrastructure and nutrient management systems with an aim to help reducing water and air pollution risk from slurry.

The grant has been designed to enable farmers to go beyond the minimum of four months' storage required by the SSAFO (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) rules to help meet the Farming Rules for Water and spread slurries to meet crop need, rather than wasting them because of a lack of storage.

  • These first-year grants are aimed at covered slurry store construction projects, to enable farmers to get to six months storage capacity based on existing livestock numbers (meaning the typical number of animals you kept on the farm over the last year).
  • Defra is grant funding a range of storage types and situations which farmers can choose from a list which needs to meet regulatory and building standards. It will help replace, build new or expand existing slurry stores to provide six months' storage. 
  • Grant-funded projects will need to maintain six months' storage capacity for all animals on the holding for the duration of the grant funding agreement, irrespective of future livestock numbers. This means you’ll need to make appropriate upgrades to your storage and slurry management if you increase your herd size in the future.

Grant information

As with the other themes under the Farming Transformation Fund, there is a two-stage application process.

Tom Bradshaw

“The Slurry Infrastructure Grant scheme will provide farmers in England an opportunity to invest in slurry systems and boost their storage capacity to six months. This will help drive improvements that further reduce the environmental impact of those businesses, improve productivity and reduce input costs.”

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw

The first stage is an online 'eligibility checker' (available from 6 December 2022 until 31 January 2023) which if eligible to apply for a grant when submitted to the RPA will be the initial application, then followed by the second full application process for those with the projects that score the strongest in the eligibility checker.

  • The minimum grant you can apply for is £25,000. The maximum grant is £250,000 for each applicant business. The scheme uses standard costs, meaning you will get a fixed contribution towards the cost of the items you need and the storage you plan to build. The contributions are based on 50% of the current market costs. 
  • The grant is paid in arrears. You can make a maximum of 3 claims over the duration of the project. You must have sufficient funds to pay for all items in full before claiming your grant payment. You can use loans, overdrafts and certain other grants, such as the Basic Payment Scheme or agri-environment schemes.
  • Capacity increases to allow over 6 months storage is permitted, however, grant funding will be capped at 6 months based on existing livestock numbers. If you choose to exceed this any additional storage requirement will be required to be privately funded.
  • Regardless of how much you pay, you will only receive the standard amount listed for that item.

You can read more about the scheme at the Defra website: GOV.UK | Farming Investment Fund – new Slurry Infrastructure grants coming in autumn 2022

Eligibility

All dairy, beef and pig farmers already using a slurry system can apply. You can use the grant to:

  • replace existing stores that are no longer fit for purpose
  • build additional storage, if your current stores are compliant
  • expand otherwise compliant storage, for example by adding another ring to a steel tank.

Eligible types of slurry store:

  • above-ground steel slurry stores
  • precast circular concrete slurry stores
  • earth bank lagoons without synthetic liner
  • earth bank lagoons with synthetic liner
  • stores using precast rectangular concrete panels
  • large volume supported slurry bags (over 2,500 cubic metres (m3)

The grant will also fund items necessary for the basic functioning of new or expanded slurry stores, such as reception pits and slurry pumps.

You must fit new or expanded stores with an impermeable cover unless you are installing a slurry bag or using acidification. You cannot use this grant for a cover only.

“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.” 

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw

The Slurry Infrastructure grant uses standard costs. You will get a fixed contribution towards the cost of the items you need and the storage you plan to build.

More information on what the grant can pay for can be found on the government's website: GOV.UK | About the Slurry Infrastructure grant, who can apply and what it can pay for

Making your application

Stage 1

Before you complete the online checker, you must have a good understanding of your current and future slurry storage requirements. Visit: Slurry infrastructure grant online checker | GOV.UK

The AHDB’s Slurry Wizard Tool can help you do this. Then, use the online checker to see if you’re eligible and to check how much grant you might get, based on your storage needs.

If demand is high, RPA will prioritise projects that have the greatest environmental benefit, based on location.

Stage 2

If you are eligible and your project is prioritised due to its environmental benefits, you will be invited to make a full application.

Before the full application is made there are two elements needed to be in place. The first is details of the project will need to go through a location and design check which will be carried out by the Environment Agency.

Secondly, planning permission must be in place before a full application is submitted. The deadline for the full application is Friday 28 June 2024. Details of invited projects will also be shared with local Catchment Sensitive Farming Advisors, who will get in contact to offer assistance.

If your full application is eligible and you meet all the conditions, RPA will offer you a grant.

Further guidance on how to apply can be found on the government's website: GOV.UK | How to apply for a Slurry Infrastructure Grant.

“I would encourage you to look at what’s on offer, consider your requirements, and make your applications as quickly as possible.”

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw

How the RPA will prioritise projects

The RPA (Rural Payments Agency) will prioritise projects which have the greatest environmental benefit. If oversubscribed in the first round, RPA will prioritise projects in areas that need urgent action to:

  • reduce nutrient pollution from agriculture
  • restore natural habitats

You can find out more about how Defra identified these areas, if your farm is in one, and how RPA will shortlist applicants.

This is the first time Defra has run national slurry storage grants for many years. So a high demand is expected.

Not everyone will get a grant in the first round, however it is expected that Defra will host subsequent rounds in the future.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure as equal an opportunity is given to all those interested with this offer.

Tenant Farmers

If you are a tenant, you will need to confirm that you will have a tenancy agreement in place for the duration of the grant funding agreement (5 years after the date of final payment). You can still apply if your current agreement is shorter than 5 years if you expect it to continue.

NFU position

We maintain that adequate slurry storage is essential for farmers to continue protecting water courses and improve water and air quality.

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.

“Though some farmers have plans, equipment and infrastructure in place to manage the nutrients in their slurry and manure, others face significant financial barriers to having sufficient slurry storage.

“The new funding being made available through the Slurry Infrastructure Grant scheme will provide farmers in England an opportunity to invest in slurry systems and boost their storage capacity to six months. This will help drive improvements that further reduce the environmental impact of those businesses, improve productivity and reduce input costs.

“The NFU has been working closely with Defra on the development of the scheme and will continue to do so to ensure as many farmers as possible are able to access this type of funding support.

“It’s vital that future farming schemes enable farmers to invest in new technology and infrastructure to tackle potential pollution issues and crucially improve water and air quality, as part of protecting the environment alongside producing sustainable climate-friendly food.

“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.”

“It’s vital that future farming schemes enable farmers to invest in new technology and infrastructure to tackle potential pollution issues and crucially improve water and air quality.”

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw

NFU input

We've worked with members and extensively with the Defra team over the past year through a combination of co-design and bilateral engagement, building up a good working relationship to help shape the offer and ensure transparency within the scheme.

We have made a real difference to move the offer on from Defra's initial thinking, such as the ability now for a farmer to choose from a wide range of infrastructure types to suit their farm as well as the grant not being restricted to just new installations. Despite this, some elements of the offer have not been consulted on, such as the actual prioritisation area, payment rates or timelines.

We are continuing to work with Defra and we would welcome any feedback from members. Please send us your views by email at [email protected].

Defra's intention

As part of the ATP (Agricultural Transition Plan), Defra wants to support farmers to manage the nutrients in their slurry and manure well. This is an area that has not been effectively regulated in the past due to financial barriers.

The grant will allow livestock farmers who have a slurry-based system to store slurry in a safe, efficient way that maximises crop nutrition and minimises nutrient losses into the environment.

Defra have provided guidance for local authorities to advise them on the benefits of supporting farmers in their applications for the Slurry Infrastructure grant which will help farmers make improvements that reduce nutrient pollution.

Defra will continue to work on other elements that will impact on slurry management, that will be regulatory baseline and how nutrient management can be enhanced.

You can access the full range of guidance on the government's website: GOV.UK | Slurry infrastructure grant

Read more around the net

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query our NFU CallFirst will contact you and, if appropriate, your question will be passed on to one of our policy teams.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.