Defra to spend £16m on slurry cover scheme

Farmers can apply for a share of a £15.9m pot for slurry store covers, as part of the Farming Ammonia Reduction Scheme.

Defra will also spend the funds, part of an EU initiative to help producers most exposed to market volatility, to provide dairy and livestock producers in England with business management training supplied by AHDB, alongside further plans for small businesses which will happen in the spring.

Applicants for the scheme will also receive a consultation on best practice for ammonia reduction, as well advice on how to conserve nitrogen.

See also: How more arable farmers can benefit from biobeds

Slurry store covers can reduce odour emissions by 83-91% and ammonia emissions by 80-91%, as well as preventing slurry dilution from rainwater and reducing the loss of nitrogen, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research.

“Our farmers are recognised the world over for producing high-quality food, but low global prices and market volatility has meant many have faced another tough year, particularly in the dairy and livestock sectors,” said Defra farming minister George Eustice.

Challenging economic climate

“We continue to do what we can to help and have again secured one of the largest support packages to help those sectors most affected by the challenging economic climate.

“Our food and farming industry already contributes £110bn to the economy and this funding is an excellent opportunity for farmers to further bolster sustainability by improving slurry management and gaining vital business skills.

“I encourage farmers to take advantage of these opportunities to become more sustainable, resilient and competitive.”

Agriculture is the UK’s leading source of ammonia, accounting for 83% of emissions in 2014, according to Defra.

Farmers who are interested should visit the website to apply.