The Welsh Government is stepping up its drive to prevent pollution from agriculture by offering grants of up to £12,000 to farmers to cover their livestock feeding and collection areas and slurry, manure and silage stores.

With plans to toughen nitrate vulnerable zone regulations in Wales on hold for now, there is increased focus on silage slurry and agricultural fuel oil (SSAFO) compliance, says Pembrokeshire-based agricultural business consultant Non Thorne, of Brown & Co.

Central to this is a new scheme that will support farmers to improve existing on-farm infrastructure and separate rainwater from slurry, says Ms Thorne, who is supporting farmers to apply for this grant funding.

The first application window will open on November 9 and will run until December 18 and will be followed by a second application window on May 18, 2021.

Ms Thorne says the scheme is an acknowledgement that some farms are still non-compliant with the SSAFO regulations introduced in 1991.

Farmers will be supported to cover existing livestock feeding and gathering areas with concrete floors, as well as slurry, manure and silage stores.

The scheme will operate a similar ‘standard cost’ principle as the Farm Business Grant.

The minimum grant level is £3,000, on a spend of £7,500, rising to a £12,000 maximum on an investment of £30,000.

Producers must have a turnover of less than £1m to qualify.

There will be five types of roof areas with different scores – coverings for livestock feeding areas, manure stores, silage stores, slurry stores and gathering areas.

The scheme will also support some secondary items, including rainwater goods for existing buildings, rainwater harvesting systems and slurry analysis kits,’’ says Ms Thorne.

Claims must be accompanied by geo-tagged photographs.

Farmers will have 12 months from the date that a contract is issued to complete the work and submit a claim.

Further details and guidance will be published on the Welsh Government website in due course.

Meanwhile the application window for the next round of Sustainable Production Grant funding opens on February 1, 2021.

Ms Thorne says this grant will cover capital investments in equipment and machinery, and much more

“The items included will have been pre-identified to address the impacts of on-farm pollution offering clear and quantifiable benefits to a farm enterprise and the wider environment,’’ she says.