Farmers outwith Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) are unlikely to appreciate the regulatory burden that these areas bring. For those affected the rules and regulations can create a headache unless you plan ahead
There are rigidly enforced BPS deductions applied as penalties for non-compliance and potential problems with SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency). Taking professional advice early is key to planning your fertiliser needs before you spread and to prevent mistakes. NVZ regulations require accurate records to be kept for 3 years. It’s a time consuming exercise and there are programmes that can help, but in practice, we are seeing more clients come to us for support with their fertiliser and muck management plans, which must be ready by 1st March and updated throughout the year.
Why? The paperwork includes a risk assessment plan (RAMS map) and calculations on nitrogen requirements for each crop as well as calculations on how much storage is needed for muck. You must detail soil type for each field, the cropping and sowing date, the quantity and date of nitrogen application, livestock numbers, movement of muck and the location of muck heaps as well as an inventory of all fertiliser bought and applied.
There are also rules on the maximum nitrogen limits that can be applied, plus timing and how close you can spread to watercourses. In reality, inspections occur in the summer, so now is a good time to plan for next year. Don’t get caught out ordering and spreading costly fertiliser in the spring that could exceed your allowance.
Author: Gwen Chalmers, Agricultural Consultant, Maud.