Tried & Tested: Nutrient Management Plan

Nutrient Management Plan



This Nutrient Management Plan is intended to be used alongside the Defra Fertiliser Manual (RB209) and the series of Guidance for Farmers in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones leaflets (link goes to current guidance). The Fertiliser Manual gives detailed nutrient recommendations for crops and grass together with standard values for the nutrient contents of organic manures. NVZ rules described in this plan are those introduced in January 2009.

Good nutrient management is one of the keys to farm profitability. Broadly, applying nutrients at recommended rates doubles the yield of most crops. Getting things wrong risks yields, profits, the environment and compliance with regulations. Statutory rules for nitrogen management apply in NVZs.

The Nutrient Management Plan includes two recording sheets:

  • Farm Record Sheet, for the whole farm;
  • Field Record Sheet, for each field.

Completing these forms through the season creates a record of nutrient planning and use.

The Plan also provides useful information sources on nutrient spreading guidance, soil analysis services, professional advice, nutrient storage and fertiliser security.

Priorities in nutrient management change during the season. The Tried & Tested Nutrient Management Plan takes you through the main stages in the season, identifying priorities at each stage. While this nutrient plan is designed for farmer use, if in doubt complete with your FACTS Qualified Adviser (FQA).

Some general points will help you get the best from nutrients you apply and avoid unnecessary losses:


  • Do incorporate poultry manure, slurry or liquid digested sludge spread onto stubble or bare ground within 24 hours of application at the latest (unless slurry is applied by band spreader or injected). This helps minimise run-off and nitrogen loss to air. It is a requirement in NVZs (Guidance Leaflet 8).
  • Do incorporate any other organic manures as soon as possible and within 24 hours if land is sloping or within 50m of surface water that could receive run-off (NVZ Guidance Leaflet 8).


  • Never apply manufactured nitrogen fertilisers, or organic manures, if soil is water-logged, flooded or snow-covered or has been frozen for more than 12 of the preceding 24 hours. This is a requirement in NVZs Guidance Leaflets 8 and 9). Nitrogen applied under such conditions would be at high risk of loss by leaching or run-off.


  • Do not apply manufactured nitrogen fertilisers, or organic manures, if there is a high risk of run-off, taking account of the slope of the land, land drains, ground cover, proximity to surface water, weather conditions and soil type. Again, this is a requirement in NVZs (Guidance Leaflets 8 and 9) and a sensible precaution to prevent nutrient waste.
  • Do not apply organic manures within 10m of surface water or within 50m of a borehole, well or spring. (NVZ requirement - Guidance Leaflet 8).
  • Do not apply manufactured nitrogen fertilisers within 2m of surface water (NVZ Guidance Leaflet 9) or any fertilisers within 2m of the centre of a hedgerow or ditch (Cross-compliance requirement).


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