Skip to main content

New General Binding Rules on Silage & Slurry - Frequently Asked Questions

We've collated the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the new General Binding Rules around silage and slurry.

Will I need an engineer’s certificate to prove my existing slurry/silage store is up to standard?

All structures built after 1 September 1991 would have needed an engineer’s certificate or sign-off as part of the SEPA prior notification procedure so in most instances SEPA will already be aware of these.  Going forward this rule does not apply to facilities in existence prior to the new regulations coming into force.  However, sign-off may be required if that was a condition or requirement of grant funding.

If I’m putting up a new slurry store, should I be looking to cover it, in case of future amendments?

These regulations don’t require a cover but there are advantages to having a cover, not least less collection of rainfall which takes up capacity and time / expense handling and spreading. It may be cheaper to install a roof at the initial construction phase rather than retrofitting one.

Can imported digestate and farm produced slurry be kept in the same store?

The rules allow for slurry to be stored in a digestate storage system and vice versa, the important aspect is that the stores meet the necessary standards and have adequate capacity. This would mean by 2026 the land manager would need to have a minimum of 22 weeks capacity for the amount of cattle slurry produced on farm during the housing period and also for quantity of digestate imported onto the farm during this period.

Is the 22-week/26-week storage requirement for the whole farm or is it site specific?

The 22/26 weeks is a whole farm requirement for slurry storage.

Does an earth bank silage pit have to have a block wall at the base of the earthed sloped walls?

Not necessarily, this will depend on the requirements of the engineer.

Will a 'Moscha' swivel splash plate meet the precision slurry application requirement?

The 'Moscha' swivel plate has been categorised as a splash plate which throws slurry into the air.  Along with high trajectory splash plates and rains guns these will be banned from 1st January 2023.

What funding is available for farmers to invest in slurry storage and precision spreading equipment?

AECS will be available for slurry storage until 2024. Further funding for precision equipment and slurry storage will be a decision for Scottish Government.

What silage pit flooring materials are acceptable? Is there a certain depth of concrete, asphalt you expect to see?

The engineer will need to ensure the floor is designed appropriately to meet the appropriate British Standards.  The most common materials used for silage pit floors and Hot Rolled asphalt and reinforce concrete.

In regard to the requirement for an engineer’s sign-off certificate, would an agricultural engineer be appropriate?

The regulations refer to an ‘engineers sign-off’ but does not specify further.  Providing the agricultural engineer is qualified to give professional advice in relation to the construction project this would satisfy the rules.  It is also advisable to ensure the engineer has appropriate insurance cover.

Can you give an example of “substantially reconstructed”?

There is no change to the regulatory requirements in this respect.  An example would be replacing 25% or more of the wall panels of a slurry store.

For farms that meet the precision spreading equipment exemptions from 1 Jan 2023 - 1 Jan 2027, what splash plates will be allowed for these farms?

Farmers and crofters who meet the exemption criteria will be able to use an inverted splash plate until 1st January 2023.  All other forms of splash plates (high trajectory and Moscha swivel plate) and rain guns will be banned from 1st January 2023.

What will the phasing in period look like? Will it be a cranking up of regulations over four years or will it be advisory to allow time to change?

The phasing period for the changes starts on 1st January 2022.  From 1st January 2022 SEPA will be working the SRUC and NFUS to produce guidance for farmer regarding these changes so by January 2027. Most famers in Scotland are at or are working towards attaining a compliant status.  SEPA will, in a pragmatic manner, work with farmers who have difficulty complying with the phased implementation of the rules.

Some concerns from those with less than 22/26-week capacity have been spreading slurry throughout the winter without any pollution issues for decades, why is there a one-size fits all policy for all of Scotland?

There has always been a one size fits all for Scotland, currently all livestock farmers if they had been complying with SSAFO should have had 180 days storage capacity for slurry (26 weeks).  Scottish Government felt it best to have one set of rules for slurry storage capacity across Scotland, so reduced the minimum capacity to 22 and 26 weeks to mirror the requirements in the NVZ regulations. Farmers must ensure they are complying General Binding Rule 18 when applying organic and inorganic fertilisers.

The rules say "the operator must notify SEPA no later than 30 days prior to commencing the works". What should the operator provide and what is commencement of works?

The phasing period for the changes starts on 1st January 2022.  From 1st January 2022 SEPA will be working the SRUC and NFUS to produce guidance for farmer regarding these changes so by January 2027. Most famers in Scotland are at or are working towards attaining a compliant status.  SEPA will, in a pragmatic manner, work with farmers who have difficulty complying with the phased implementation of the rules.

Find our more about what's changed, including the timelines for the transitions on our  New General Binding Rules on Silage & Slurry - What's changed? webpage.