WITH the regulations surrounding slurry use and storage expected to become tighter due to some proposals in Defra’s 'Clean air strategy' being adopted, it looks like covering slurry stores will become a requirement in England from 2027.

And, it is highly likely that Scottish farmers will have to follow suit. This will cause concern for some farmers who will need to seek new slurry storage, but there are some novel, new solutions to this perennial problem.

A flexible, scalable solution is already available in the UK that will keep slurry not just covered but entirely contained, pointed out Dutch company, Albers Alligator, which has been manufacturing 'bag' tanks for more than 35 years. These are seen as a cost-effective and flexible solution to contain slurry in small and large volumes.

The bag tanks range in size from 200 cubic metres to 7000 cubic metres and can be located on any soil type as only a shallow foundation is needed. The tanks have integral hydraulic or electric stirrers, fill/empty pipes and are self-venting, meaning that relatively little management or farmer involvement is needed, said the company.

John Tydeman, from Tramspread, which markets and installs the tanks in the UK, commented: “These tanks are proving ever more popular. They are lower cost and easier to assemble than comparable slurry solutions on the market and often don’t require any planning permission.

"We expect to see interest rise now that the authorities have outlined their plans. These bags could help a great many farmers adhere to any new legislation.”

Bag tanks are low to the ground and have minimal impact on the surrounding landscape and many farmers have been installed without requiring planning permission. However, those looking to install a bag tank are advised to seek guidance from their local authority, said Mr Tydeman.

Albers Alligator also produces the Winbag, a portable tank. These smaller bag tanks range from 100 cubic metres to 350 cubic metres and are typically used as overflow storage but can be used as a temporary and portable solution requiring only a level, smooth site.

A reeling device rolls the bag on to a trailer and will unreel it in another location. The ability to take these bags anywhere on the farm offers a solution to farmers with difficult to reach fields. They are watertight so can be remotely situated, tanker filled or pumped to and emptied when the slurry is needed.

The 'Clean air strategy' also dictates that splash plates will be banned from 2025 and farmers will be expected to use low emission spreading equipment, such as trailing shoe, dribble bar or injection. Using umbilical systems also removes the need for multiple trips to fill up a tanker.

Slurry can be pumped from the main tank to a Winbag in a satellite location and once the area surrounding it has been treated, it can be reeled in and moved to another location to repeat the process.

Adopting and adhering to new legislation is often difficult and costly for farmers, but there could be grant funding available in England under the capital element of the Mid Tier Stewardship scheme to help with the cost. A typical 100-cow dairy unit producing 2.25 cubic metres per cow, per month would require a bag tank size of 1500 cubic metres to keep six months slurry. A tank of this size would cost £56,500, which includes installation and is expected to last at least 20 years, while a 100 cubic metres Winbag is £23,000, including the reeler.