Today it has come to our attention that Defra have released some new guidance that you must follow when you are using a mechanical slurry separator.

 In short, the rules are:

  • You must have enough storage to meet your slurry storage requirement without the separator. This will make sure you have enough storage if the separator fails or needs maintenance.
  • Collect your slurry in a reception pit before separation.
  • The pit must be large enough to hold all the slurry you are likely to produce in a two-day period, including any rainfall. You should have an alarm system and a contingency plan to prevent overflow.
  • You may need to install the separator on a gantry to allow the slurry to pass through it. You must fit the gantry with an access ladder and platform to allow safe inspection. You should be able to secure or lock this to prevent unauthorised access.
  • You must collect and store the stackable material on an impermeable surface to prevent leaching into the soil. If liquid leaks from stackable material, you must capture it and divert it to your slurry store. To prevent stackable material getting wet and turning back into slurry, you should:
    • Keep it under an impermeable cover such as a tarpaulin or in a barn.
    • Not store it in an uncovered field heap, except for short periods when preparing to spread the material to land.
    • If material does get wet again, you must store and manage it as slurry.

As with all organic manure, you must not keep the stackable material within:

  • 10 metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters, including those that are seasonally dry
  • 50 metres of any spring, well or borehole

What does this mean for my Business?

We have had many discussions with farmers this year who are looking to increase slurry storage capacity, either with or without grant, where the option of slurry separators has arisen.

 The main benefit of slurry separation was that it reduced the investment in slurry storage and gave you a stackable material that could either be stored in field heaps or exported off farm with less transport cost.  The solid material was also higher in phosphate, so allowed farms with high phosphate levels to export more phosphate too.

 This new guidance means that if you are investing in a mechanical slurry separator, you can no longer save investment in slurry storage capacity and you will also have to spend money on covering the solid material (either a roof or tarpaulin) until you spread it, as it can no longer be stored out in field heaps. 

 If you are exporting the solid to an arable neighbour during the winter months they will also need to store it under cover rather than in field heaps as per FYM.   This is likely to affect many straw for muck swaps that are currently in operation, and will hamper arable farms building organic matter into their crop rotations with the use of manures.

 So, we are struggling to see any reasons why farmers would want to invest in slurry separators with the additional expenditure that this new guidance incurs.

If you are applying for a Slurry Infrastrurture Grant Round 2

It is important that you redo your Slurry Wizard calculations for the Round 2 applications with the new version of Slurry Wizard that was released just recently. 

 If you are wishing to install a slurry separator it is also important that where the question asks “Do you operate a separator for the slurry entering the store” you enter NO, otherwise you will have the wrong calculation for the storage capacity you require.

 We are, as ever, your dedicated consultants who will endeavour to ask the difficult questions and seek policy change.  But this newsletter sets out the rules as they stand today.

Want help or advise on Slurry?

Do not hesitate to get in touch. We would be delighted to help.