Nitrate is a vital soil nutrient for plants to grow. But excess nitrate can wash off or leach from agricultural land and pollute waterways and ground waters.
Environment agency work to protect the water in the environment and to maintain the standard of the water that we consume. Use of NVZs is one tool of many that help to protect the environment from inappropriate use of nitrates.
In particular it is about promoting better management of animal manures, chemical nitrogen fertiliser and other nitrogen-containing materials spread to land. Good nutrient management is good for business.
Nitrate levels are regulated and managed by various methods. From regulation with the designation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and the advice led approach of Farming Rules for Water which is applicable to all farmers and landowners. Compliance with NVZ rules are required for Basic Payment Scheme claimants. Voluntary approaches as well as assurance schemes also encourage farmers to adopt good practices.
Whether in or out of an NVZ all farmers and land managers need to follow the Farming Rules for Water, brought in on April 2 2018. Farmers across England need to manage manure, fertiliser and soil to prevent runoff, erosion and leaching.
There is also a new Code of Good Agricultural Practice for reducing ammonia emissions which provides advice for farmers to follow.