All farms within a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) are required to complete an annual livestock report to calculate if they hold enough land to spread the amount of nitrogen contained within produced and imported livestock manures. This report is also known as the ‘Whole Farm Loading or Whole Farm Nitrogen Limit calculation’.

Find out if you’re inside an NVZ in England by using the interactive map here: https://environment.data.gov.uk/farmers/

The deadline

You must have completed your annual livestock report for the prior year by the end of April. For example, the deadline for the 2022 annual report is 30th April 2023.

Inside an NVZ

If all your land is inside an NVZ your mandatory limit is 170kg of nitrogen per hectare. This limit should not be breached and will result in a deduction to your Basic Payment if it is.

Outside an NVZ

If all of your land is outside an NVZ, it is good practice to complete a livestock calculation, but there is a ‘good practice’ guideline of 250kg N/ha instead of 170kg N/ha. You will not be penalised if you go over this figure but you must still take the steps to prevent water pollution; any farms that are found to be polluting watercourses can still receive penalties.

Plan for the year ahead

Complete a calculation based on your plan for the following year. At CXCS we always complete a calculation for the following year based on the planned figures our clients give us. This will give us time to let the client know if their plans are in breach of the 170kg of nitrogen per hectare limit.

What if I am struggling to keep below the limit?

There are a few options available to you if your calculation for the following year exceeds the limits.

  • Export manure – exporting manure to a neighbour will help relieve some of the nitrogen loading, but you must ensure the importing farm has the capacity to take the extra nitrogen
  • Rent land – renting in additional land, particularly for grazing, can help lower your nitrogen loading as you will then be able to average the animal figures out across the land you are farming for the proportion of the year you farm it, and have more area to spread the manure produced.
  • Lower animal numbers – consider reducing the number of livestock you keep, to prevent this from being an ongoing problem. Remember that rules are rules and by not meeting them, you are in breach of the regulations. This could result in a hefty fine or deduction from your Basic Payment
  • Apply for a Grassland Derogation* to increase your agreed nitrogen limit from 170 kg N/ha to 250kg N/ha. NB: You must have 80% of your land in grassland to be eligible.

Additional rules apply to derogated farms. See Grassland Derogations for Livestock Manure in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones for more information on how to comply with your Grassland Derogation.

If you are struggling to stay within the limit on your farm, CXCS can help you explore all the options and help you become compliant.

Calculating your nitrogen loading

Calculating your nitrogen loading is included in our Cross Compliance service along with other NVZ records and our expert advice. To find out more about this service please contact us on 01981 590514.

* Subject to derogations being available / open for application

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