Environmental management – guidance

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.

Find out if your land is in an NVZ

To find out if your land is in an NVZ, use the What’s in your backyard? map.

The NVZ boundary has been 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.

Contact the Defra helpline if you need a printed map of the NVZs that affect your farmland.

Telephone: 08459 33 55 77

Email: helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Using manufactured nitrogen fertilisers and organic manures in NVZs

You must follow the guides on using nitrogen fertilisers in nitrate vulnerable zones and storing organic manures in nitrate vulnerable zones if your land is in an NVZ.

Land first included in an NVZ in 2013

If your land was first included in an NVZ during 2013 there are certain requirements you must start meeting.

You must:

  • not spread organic manure during closed periods from autumn 2015
  • follow the rules on the separation of slurry and provision of storage capacity from the autumn closed period of 2015
  • follow controls on what equipment you can use to spread slurry from 1 Jan 2016

Contact the Defra helpline if you need to confirm when your land was first included in an NVZ.

Cross compliance requirements

You must meet all relevant 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.

Where to get help

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)

Email: advice@farmingadviceservice.org.uk