If proposals in Defra’s Clean Air Strategy are adopted, covering slurry will be a requirement in England from 2027. This will cause concern for some farmers who will need to seek new slurry storage. However, a flexible, scalable solution is already available in the UK that will keep slurry not just covered but entirely contained.
Dutch company Albers Alligator have been manufacturing bag tanks for more than 35 years. These tanks represent a cost-effective and flexible solution to contain slurry in small and large volumes.
Bag tanks range in size from 200 cubic metres to 7,000 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 so relatively little management or farmer involvement is needed.
John Tydeman from Tramspread who market and install Albers Alligator tanks in the UK comments.
“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 Defra has outlined its plans. These bags can help a great many farmers adhere to the new legislation.”
Bag tanks are low to the ground and have minimal impact on the surrounding landscape. Many farmers have installed bag tanks without requiring planning permission. However, those looking to install a bag tank are advised to seek guidance from their local authority.
Albers Alligator also produce 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 called Winsystem rolls the whole bag on to a trailer and will unreel it in another location. The ability to take these bags anywhere on the farm, unreel and fill offers a solution to farmers with difficult to reach fields. The bags are watertight so can be remotely situated, tanker filled or pumped to and emptied when the slurry is needed.
Defra’s 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. Once the area surrounding the Winbag 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. However, there could be grant funding under the capital element of the Mid Tier Stewardship scheme to help with the cost. A typical 100 dairy cow unit producing 2.25 cubic metres per cow, per month would require a bag tank size of 1,500 cubic metres to keep 6 months slurry. A tank of this size costs £56,500 which includes installation and is expected to last at least 20 years. A 100 cubic metres Winbag is £23,000 including the reeler.