Defra slurry grants: What’s on offer and who can apply?

With £13m up for grabs, Defra’s Slurry Infrastructure Grant scheme has been much anticipated by farm businesses that need to expand their storage or replace an existing store to meet government pollution control requirements for six months’ storage.

The grants of up to £250,000 to cover about 50% of the cost of slurry storage investments open for applications by dairy, beef and pig farmers in England from 6 December 2022.

See also: More advice and tips on slurry and manure management

What is covered?

Above-ground steel slurry stores, earth bank lagoons, precast concrete slurry stores, and slurry bags with capacity to hold more than 2,500cu m all qualify for funding.

There is also money available for reception pits, electric slurry transfer pumps, under-floor transfer channels, safety fencing and other slurry store accessories.

Grants range in scale from £25,000 to a maximum of £250,000, and will be paid in arrears.

Who can apply?

Sam Kelly of Kelly Farm Consulting pointed out that businesses cannot apply for the grant if they already have six months’ serviceable storage.

The storage requirement can only be based on the livestock numbers a business currently has, and cannot cover planned herd expansion.

Also ruled out are farms that produce poultry, sheep or arable crops only, are a horticulture business, or only operate a contracting service.

The cost of demolishing or removing old stores, repairing and maintaining existing stores or paying for second-hand equipment will not be covered.

All grant-funded stores will need to be fitted with an impermeable cover, unless the slurry is treated through acidification.

Items bought using the grant must meet the exact specification set out in the scheme’s guidance notes or the funding offer could be withdrawn.

Environmental benefit a priority 

Defra expects demand to be high and has already said that it will prioritise investments that are shown to deliver the biggest environmental benefit –  for example, on farms with a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), special areas of conservation, special protection areas and wetlands.

Applications within air and water quality priority zones in Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Norfolk, among other areas, will also get preference.

The first stage of the application process – the online checker – will close on 31 January 2023.

Eligible businesses will then be invited to complete a full application for, and will have until 28 June 2024 to submit that application. 

Before completing the online checker, farmers should understand their current and future slurry requirements, Mr Kelly recommended.

“You can then complete the online checker, via the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) website, to check your eligibility and how much grant you may be able to access, based on your storage needs,” he said.

AHDB slurry calculator

In advance of the online checker opening, AHDB’s Slurry Wizard could be a useful tool for helping farmers to work out what storage capacity they need.

This round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant scheme is expected to be the first of many, allowing businesses that are unsuccessful in this round to reapply.

Priority areas could also change between different rounds.

Tenant eligibility

Tenant farmers will have as much right to access the scheme as landowners.

However, they are advised to have an open discussion with their landlord to ensure eligibility for the scheme, and to decide who pays for the 50% balancing cost of the investment.

Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), urged landlords not to stand in the way of improvements.

“Under an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy, the tenant can challenge it if their landlord says no. But with farm business tenancies, there needs to be a practical discussion,” he said.

One of Defra’s eligibility requirements is for farmers to have at least five years’ use of the land after the final grant payment is made, so tenants may need to negotiate an agreement term extension.

With new stores and extensions likely to need planning permission, this is likely to add to the time pressure, Mr Moody added.

In order to secure contractors and materials, 10 years of cover may be required to allow sufficient time to write off the investment cost, he advised.

The CAAV is putting pressure on the government to remove the need for planning permission and, instead, give permitted development rights for slurry store improvements.

“It’s crazy to let the planning system get in the way of solving water pollution,” said Mr Moody.

Grant timeline

  • 6 December 2022: Applications open for online checker
  • 31 January 2023: Window closes for stage-one applications
  • 28 June 2024: Deadline for submitting full stage-two applications

What is on offer under the Slurry Infrastructure Grant scheme?


Standard cost

Above-ground steel slurry store

£31.50/cu m

Precast circular concrete store

£26.17/cu m

Earth bank lagoon without synthetic liner

£10.08/cu m

Earth bank lagoon with synthetic liner

£18.22/cu m

Store using precast rectangular concrete panels

£72.74/cu m

Large volume permanently installed slurry bag

£19.27/cu m

Fixed flexible cover

£32.17/cu m

Floating flexible cover

£7.99/cu m

Precast concrete reception pit

£154.81/cu m

Cast in situ concrete reception pit

£154.81/cu m

Glass reinforced plastic reception pit

£154.81/cu m

Cast in situ concrete reception pit

£154.81/cu m

Glass reinforced plastic reception pit

£154.81/cu m

Steel tank reception pit

£154.81/cu m

Electric-powered slurry transfer pump


Pto or hydraulic transfer pump


Centrifugal chopper pump


Pto or hydraulically driven chopper pump


Galvanised-steel pipework (100mm)


Galvanised-steel pipework (150m)


Polyethylene (PE) or equivalent pipework (100mm)


Polyethylene (PE) or equivalent pipework (150mm)


Under-floor transfer channels


Tank wall mixers tank capacity up to 1,200cu m


Tank wall mixers tank capacity up to 8,000cu m


Inspection platform with ladder


Safety fencing


Source: Kelly Farm Consulting