Nutrient management: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones
Find out if your land is in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) and how use of nitrogen fertilisers and organic manures is restricted in NVZs.
Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) are areas designated as being at risk from agricultural nitrate pollution. They include about 58% of land in England. Defra reviews NVZs every 4 years to account for changes in water pollution.
NVZs for 2017 to 2020 start on 1 January 2017. They include new areas of NVZs, and exclude areas that have been de-designated.
Find out if your land is in an NVZ
Use the What’s in your backyard? map to find out if your land is in an NVZ . You can print a map of your local area using this tool. This tool is continually updated to show any changes to NVZ designations.
Your farm may be completely or partly in an NVZ. An NVZ boundary is drawn around whole fields, so there are no fields that are only partly in an NVZ. Restrictions apply for each field on your farm that’s in an NVZ.
The NVZs method statement shows how the NVZs were decided for the 2017 to 2020 designation. The National Environment and Agricultural Procedure - Nitrate (Neap-N) report gives the estimates of average nitrate leached from agricultural land used in the analysis.
If you can’t print a map from What’s in your backyard then contact the Environment Agency.
Telephone: 03708 506 506 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) email@example.com
Defra sends written notices in early 2017 to any person who owns or occupies land completely or partly within an NVZ. This tells the owner or occupier of the designation and their need to comply with NVZ rules.
Appeal an NVZ notice
When you’ve got your notice in 2017 you can appeal the designation. You can only appeal an NVZ notice if you believe your land either:
- doesn’t drain into polluted water
- drains into water that shouldn’t be identified as polluted
Using manufactured nitrogen fertilisers and organic manures in NVZs
If your land is in an NVZ you must follow the guidance on using nitrogen fertilisers in nitrate vulnerable zones and storing organic manures in nitrate vulnerable zones.
If your holding is in an NVZ for the first time in 2017, transitional arrangements will apply to give you time to adjust your farming practice.
You may be eligible for a grassland derogation if the livestock manure produced on your farm is likely to exceed the amount you’re allowed to spread on your land in an NVZ.
The NVZ rules are part of the requirements for cross compliance, known as Statutory Management Requirement 1. You must meet all NVZ cross-compliance requirements to qualify for full payment under the Basic Payment Scheme and other direct payments.
Inspections and enforcement
The Environment Agency enforces the NVZ rules. Its officers make risk-based assessments of which farms to inspect.
The Rural Payments Agency inspects a proportion of farmers who claim single farm payment under the cross-compliance rules.
Contact the Farming Advice Service for more information on using nitrogen fertilisers and manures in NVZs and other requirements of cross compliance.
Telephone: 0345 345 1302 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: 10 August 2015
Updated: 1 December 2016
- Removed section about 'Land first included in an NVZ in 2013'. Added information about NVZs for 2017 and grassland derogations.
- First published.