Farmers in Scotland are being urged to feed back their views on a consultation document proposing changes to the rules in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones.

The NVZ consultation proposes a number of potentially significant changes to the rules.

These include what NFU Scotland has described as “contentious” extensions to closed periods for some soil types and increasing the nitrogen efficiency values attached to pig and cattle slurry.

NFU Scotland vice-president John Picken said: “With 14% of Scotland’s agricultural land covered by existing NVZ legislation, these proposed amendments to the action programme will be of huge interest to a significant number of Scottish farmers.

“There is much to discuss. The consultation includes views on extending the closed periods by up to a month on anything other than sandy or shallow soils. At the same time, we want to explore the impact that attaching higher nitrogen values to certain slurries and manures may have on the Nmax calculations that determine the total nitrogen that can be applied to any one crop type.

“NFUS has long been arguing for a flexible approach to closed periods, taking account of local conditions. That would allow a more risk-based and proportionate approach to the responsible spreading of slurry and manure that better matches the growing season in any one year.”

NFU Scotland is running four member meetings in May, at which Scottish government and Scottish Environment Protection Agency staff will explain the rationale behind the potential changes to NVZ rules, as well as discussing the latest water monitoring results.

The meetings are at :

• 7 May – Castle Hotel, Huntly – 19:30

• 8 May – The Lodge, Carfraemill – 19:30

• 9 May – Cairndale Hotel, Dumfries – 19:30

• 10 May – Huntingtower Hotel, Perth – 19:30

A further consultation on whether to consider changes to the areas in Scotland designated as NVZs will start later in 2012.