Slurry and water storage grant scheme soon closes for Scots farmers

Around 60 Scottish farms applied for slurry storage funding in the 2023 funding round
Around 60 Scottish farms applied for slurry storage funding in the 2023 funding round

Scottish farmers hoping to upgrade slurry storage or build irrigation lagoons to meet new requirements are being urged to apply for a fund closing in a few days time.

The Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) funding round opened in February for farmers wanting to erect or upgrade their slurry storage.

The fund includes support for irrigation lagoons, a new measure that the industry had been calling for given recent water shortages in some areas.

Scottish government said the funding for slurry storage and irrigation lagoons consists of £4m worth available.

It indicated that this would be the final year that support for slurry storage will be available.

For this year, the deadline closes on 19 April for applications.

Under new rules, farms where slurry from cattle is produced are required to have 22 weeks slurry storage capacity by 1 January 2026.

Slurry stores constructed before September 1991 have until 2026 to comply with the new storage requirements, but those constructed after this date must comply by 2024.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has committed to working with those farmers who have less than 22 weeks storage after 1 January 2026 with the aim of reaching compliance as quickly as possible.

Around 60 Scottish farms applied for slurry storage funding in the 2023 AECS round, largely due to the short application window, but the expectation is that many more will apply in 2024.

Since early December 2023, NFU Scotland has been encouraging those likely to be applying to the current round of funding for slurry storage to undertake planning ahead of the scheme’s opening.

The union's director of policy, Jonnie Hall said that on supporting slurry storage, this was a step in the right direction.

"There is an increased payment rate of up to £20 per cubic metre (up to 2,000 cubic metres). Previous recipients can apply although first time applicants will be prioritised.

“To improve industry resilience in light of recent significant water shortages in some areas, having irrigation lagoons included for the first time shows that Scottish government has listened to us and accepted the proposals we submitted."

He added that for those looking to either erect a slurry store or construct an irrigation lagoon, the application window closure on 19 April remained very tight.

"We recognise that this is set to ensure works can be completed and claims made within the constraints of a financial (scheme) year," Mr Hall said.

“It's not ideal, but we urge members to use what's on offer - not least as the clock is ticking on the four-year phase in of the new slurry storage regulations.”