Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has welcomed the positive response to Tranche 2 of the Manure Efficiency Technology Scheme (METS).
Under the Scheme, which is part of the Rural Development Programme 2007-13, a total of £1.25million will be allocated to farmers to assist with the purchase of specialised advanced slurry spreading equipment.
Minister Gildernew said,“The significant level of interest which the scheme has generated demonstrates the willingness of farmers to invest in progressive technology which supports sustainable farming practice. The 250 applications for funding which were received have been assessed by my Department’s delivery agent, Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership. This week will mark the start of Letters of Offer being issued and the vast majority of successful applicants should receive their offer by the end of March.
“The £1.25million allocated will fund at least 125 advanced slurry spreading machines at a maximum grant of £10,000. 25% of the applications received are collective applications where farmers have come together under a lead applicant with the intention of sharing the equipment. This collaborative approach will mean that more farmers will benefit from the scheme and the technology.
“I am also encouraged by the high volume of applications that were submitted online. On line services are the way forward, reducing paperwork, bureaucracy and saving time. With nine out of 10 METS applications being submitted on line it is clear that farmers recognise the advantages of doing business in this way and are willing to give it a go.”
The Minister added: “Working together, the industry and DARD have made a huge investment in slurry storage through the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme (FNMS) in recent years. The MET scheme builds on this by helping to increase the efficiency of slurry spreading. The machines funded will have a long term positive impact and bring benefits such as increased nutrient efficiency from slurry, lower chemical fertiliser input costs, improved water quality and reduced green house gas emissions. The reduced smell from slurry spreading will also benefit the wider public. This is a “win – win” combination for farmers and the environment. In addition, Tranche 2 of METS will result in investment of over £3million in new machinery. This should provide significant business for local companies which manufacture and supply the machines.”