ARCHIVE: Cross compliance monitoring: SMR 4 Nitrate Nulnerable Zones (NVZs) - trends in nitrogen application rates
The aim of SMR 4 requirements is to reduce the pollution of waters caused or induced by nitrates from agricultural sources and to prevent further pollution. They apply to land within a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ).
Farmers must not exceed crop requirements for the quantity of nitrogen fertiliser applied to each field each year, taking account of crop uptake and soil supply from soil organic matter, crop residues and organic manures.
Note: For 2001/02 NVZs refer to those classified in 1996 only
The British Survey of Fertiliser Practice (BSFP) collects data on the application of manufactured fertilisers to agricultural land.
The graph shows overall nitrogen application rates for tillage and grass in England both within and outside NVZs.
There is little difference in the overall application rates within and outside NVZs. There have, generally, been declines in overall application rates over time.
Farmers within NVZs must assess the amount of fertiliser nitrogen required by each crop on each field each year. Account must be taken of the expected crop uptake and full allowance must be made for the nitrogen available from soil organic matter, previous crop residues and from application of organic manures. Where appropriate, soil type, rainfall and irrigation should also be taken into account.
Defra Fertiliser Recommendations for Agricultural and Horticultural Crops' (RB209) is one authoritative source (but not the only source) of further guidance.
Statistical and Methodological Information
The British Survey of Fertiliser Practice (BSFP) is an annual nationally representative survey. In 2006 approximately 1300 farms were surveyed. The main purpose of the survey is to estimate average application rates of nitrogen, phosphate and potash used for agricultural crops and grassland. Information is also collected on applications of sulphur fertilisers, organic manures and lime.
A recorder visits each sampled farm and records field level fertiliser use and the timing of applications. Methodological details can be found within the published annual reports (see further information)
The area of land within NVZs was expanded in October 2002 to cover approximately 55% of land in England . The original 1996 NVZ designations covered roughly 8% of land. The NVZ data for 2001/02, therefore include only land within the 1996 NVZs. Within the BSFP, the farmer declares whether or not a field is within an NVZ.
Application rates presented here are overall application rates defined as the total quantity of nutrient used, in kilograms (kg), divided by the total extent of crop area, in hectares (ha) (including any areas without application of the nutrient).
This indicator will be updated annually. The next update will be in autumn 2008.
A printable version of this page is available in pdf format.
Further information on cross compliance can be found on the CAP cross compliance internet site.
Further information on the BSFP and recent publications can be found at:
Information on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones can be found at:
Information on RB209 can be found at:
You can email the Observatory Programme Team at: email@example.com.
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Page last modified: 10 November, 2010
Page published: August, 2008