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Nutrient Management Plan

(Option closed to new applicants from 2010)


The aim of the measure is to improve nutrient planning and nutrient management and in this way to reduce diffuse pollution from farm land.

What will this achieve?

This Option will encourage the best use of nutrients from inorganic and organic fertiliser (including slurry and farmyard manure) by matching applications to crop requirements. It should thus reduce the losses of nutrients to the environment.

What you can do

The measure is to implement nutrient planning and management on the arable land and improved grassland of the farm:

  • Carry out soil testing in selected fields on a 3 to 5-year cycle to determine soil pH, nutrient status (e.g. phosphates (P) and potash (K)) and trace elements (e.g. magnesium)
  • Calculate nutrient requirements of both arable and grass crops, e.g. nitrogen (N), P, K, and trace elements. This should take account of the soil analysis results, the nutrients available from previous inputs and the cropping history. For N, follow the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) recommendations in the Technical Note T516 "Nitrogen recommendations for Cereals, Oilseed Rape and Potatoes". For P and K, follow SAC Technical Note T308 "Removal by crops and P, K balance sheets"
  • Keep records of the quantities and date of application of mineral fertiliser (e.g. 20:10:10), farmyard manure and slurry applied to the field. This should take account of the levels of N, P and K contained in organic manures. Tables of typical values for total N, P and K (and potentially available P and K) in manure and slurry are available in the 4-Point Plan and the PEPFAA Code
  • Operate buffer areas if there is a watercourse (this includes ditches), spring or borehole in or beside any of the fields. (This may not require any action if the area is already part of a buffer area because of an agri-environment scheme or set-aside.) If you are eligible for the measure, you may apply for the Creation and management of water margins and enhanced riparian buffer areas options under RDC Priorities.

    You will also need to:

  • Keep records of no-spread zones on arable land or improved grassland. For further guidance, you may wish to consult the 4-Point Plan http://www.sac.ac.uk/consulting/services/f-h/fbs/publications/fourpointplan/
  • Apply fertiliser at times which will promote maximum nutrient uptake by the crops.

The production of a simple Risk Assessment for Manure and Slurry (RAMS) is an easy way to plan applications of manure and slurry whilst following good agricultural practice and reducing pollution risk. The 4-Point Plan provides guidance on the preparation of a RAMS.

Who can apply?

Farmers in Scotland farming non- NVZ land.

Plans should normally cover a 3 to 5-year period. The commitment period will be for the growing season; a new plan may be applied for each year.

Eligibility criteria

Farming land in this Option must be arable land or improved grassland. Farm land in nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs) is required to be included in manure and fertiliser plans and is therefore not eligible under this Option. Where part of a farm is in an NVZ and part is outside, an application may be made on the non- NVZ land.

What costs could be supported

Contribution of 40% to the cost of producing a nutrient management plan in any one year.

Rate of support

If the nutrient management plan was prepared by a professional adviser, 40% of the cost will be payable up to a maximum of up to £300 per holding.

If the potential beneficiary prepares the plan rather than employing a professional adviser, a sum of £150 per holding will be payable.


Area Office staff of the Scottish Government carry out inspections to verify the plan and its implementation.

At inspection the inspector will expect to see:

  • Soil test results
  • Your cropping records
  • Records showing dates applied, amounts and types of organic and inorganic fertiliser applied to your fields
  • Calculations of current crop nutrient requirements
  • A map showing no-spread zones

The plan should cover all the arable land and improved grassland on the farm.

The plan should identify individual fields and involve an assessment of the fertiliser needs for the crops in those fields.

List of links to relevant technical guidance

Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) recommendations in the Technical Note T516 "Nitrogen recommendations for Cereals, Oilseed Rape and Potatoes". This also contains details on the availability of nitrogen from the application of livestock manure.

SAC Technical Note T308 "Removal by crops and P, K balance sheets" for P and K.

The 4 Point Plan can be found on the SAC farm business web page: