What is a slurry pit, and what does one look like?
Available in various shapes and sizes, slurry stores are often adapted to meet the farmer’s needs, but they all essentially function in the same way. A slurry store is a hole or a structure in which the farmers gather animal waste and other unusable organic matter such as water or straw to create fertiliser for use on crops. Coming in various forms, slurry stores are often an important way of using up excess waste while providing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are necessary for healthy crops.
How much slurry storage do I need?
Slurry storage can be a complicated issue, too big, and you’ve wasted essential space, too little, and you’re left with excess waste until you can spread your current slurry. However, with some simple mathematics, you can work out your slurry storage requirements. One of the best and authoritative guides on how large your storage or slurry store needs to be can be found here.
Underground or above-ground storage?
Broadly speaking, underground slurry storage tanks tend to be cheaper than their above-ground equivalents. However, both have their merits, and it’s always worth exploring your options in full to find the best solution for you and your farm.
When it comes to underground storage tanks, the depth can vary, but as you may imagine, the deeper you dig, the deeper the necessary piping needs to travel, which may end up requiring a more robust pumping system than intended. However, an underground tank will take up less ground cover than an overground option, making it a popular choice among farmers with less space to work with. Often, underground tanks are relatively quick and easy to install, relying on prefabricated elements that simply require a hole big enough to accommodate them. Underground slurry tanks are highly adaptable, often simplifying the process of finding a tank large enough to meet your requirements.
Above Ground Storage
Often better suited to areas with high water tables or farms that don’t have the land availability for lagoons. One benefit of above ground slurry storage is that you can expand the tank when you need to. Unlike the lagoon, the above-ground tank is relatively easy and inexpensive to cover, effectively reducing the risk of overflow. Often above ground tanks will require a reception pit where the contents can be scraped to a transfer pump before being spread. Like the lagoon and the underground tank, the above-ground slurry tank will require regular maintenance; however, this is cheap and relatively simple to do so.
Alternative slurry storage solutions
One of the most popular solutions to slurry storage is the slurry lagoon. Essentially a shallow pit surrounded by steeply banked earth and, more often than not in a rectangular formation, the slurry lagoon is one of the most cost-effective ways of housing slurry. Requiring little to no maintenance and very easy and fast to build in comparison to other solutions, this underground storage solution is one of, if not the cheapest option. However, the bare essential quality of the lagoon comes with issues of its own. More often than not, exposure to the elements means that annual rainfall will drain into the lagoon. While you can expect roughly 30% to evaporate, this can potentially cause overflow issues in the long term. Similarly, the nature of the earthen banks can pose problems for the lagoon – whether it’s burrowing animals, discovering tree roots, or even draining the slurry; the earthen banks need to be adequately maintained to minimise the risk of slurry runoff.