Poor storage practices could land you in a heap of trouble

By Paul Henman

The Storing Silage Slurry Agriculture Fuel Oils (SSAFO) Regulations introduced in 1991 are heading towards 30 years old.  They don’t make great bedtime reading and you would be forgiven for not knowing them off by heart. However, it is easy to get caught out with quite serious implications. They have had some updates and amendments over the years, but the fundamentals have remained.

I had a call from a farmer disappointed that the Environment Agency was questioning his recently built earth banked silage pit – in fact requiring him to bring his pit up to a 28-year-old standard. New earth banked silage pits have not been allowed in England and Wales since 1991 (the rules in Scotland are different).  The rules stipulate a silage pit must have an impervious base and an exterior drain running to an effluent tank (of a specified size). The structure must have a 20-year life (with maintenance) and the effluent tank must have a 20 year life without maintenance.  It does not have to have walls but if it does (these cannot be earth banks) the drain must be on the outside of the wall. The walls must be built build to the necessary British Standards. It must not be sited within 10 metres of a water course. The document with full specifications for silage pits, (and also slurry/manure stores and fuel oil tanks) is freely available in the publication CIRIA C759a&b. From www.ciria.org.

These mistakes are costly but can easily be avoided with good advice and proper planning. It really is false economy to avoid the rules and hope you won’t get caught. If you have further questions relating to farm infrastructure for silage pits, slurry and manure stores or dairy building infrastructure please don’t hesitate to contact me.