Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced that the Manure Efficiency Technology Scheme (METS) will re-open on Monday 31 March 2014.

METS, a capital grant scheme delivered under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, provides financial support for specialised slurry spreading equipment. The scheme will provide financial support to farm businesses of up to 40 per cent of the cost of eligible items purchased.

Eligible items for grant aid are (i) slurry tankers fitted with trailing shoe, trailing hose or shallow injector slurry spreading systems, (ii) trailing shoe, trailing hose or injector systems for fitting to an umbilical system or an existing tanker designed for the fitting of an advanced spreading system.

The grant available to each successful individual or collective application will be up to a maximum of £10,000.The total funding available for Tranche 3 is £0.7million. The closing date for applications is 25 April 2014.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland applications will be assessed under the selection criteria: Environmental Benefit and Cost Effectiveness: 65 marks, Farms operating under the Nitrates Directive Derogation: 15 marks, Succession Opportunity (age under 40), 15 marks; and E-Communication: 5 marks.

In making the announcement Minister O’Neill said: “The first two tranches of the METS have successfully funded over 230 advanced slurry spreading machines. The productive and environmental benefits of this equipment have been verified by local research at AFBI Hillsborough and demonstrated to farmers through a series of events organised by CAFRE. The third tranche of METS will help more farmers to invest in this technology which supports efficient and environmentally sustainable farming practice by promoting greater nutrient efficiency.”

“METS equipment increases resource efficiency and can help reduce the environmental impact of livestock production. Therefore, it is an important component in delivery on the “Going for Growth” Strategy objective of sustainable growth.”

Outlining the application process, the Minister continued: “The Scheme will again be open to both individual and collective applicants. Therefore, farmers will have an opportunity to come together to submit a collective application under a lead applicant. The collective application facility proved popular under Tranche 2, helping smaller farms benefit from the Scheme and the technology.”

“The Scheme will continue to operate under the same selection criteria as Tranche 2 which reflect the primary objective of maximising the environmental and productive benefits from the equipment funded under METS,” she added.