Following a consultation last year, the Scottish Government is amending its Action Programme for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs).

The key amendments are:

l Extending the closed period (when manure with a high nitrogen content may not be spread) by two weeks on heavier soils – effective from October 1 for arable land and October 15 for grassland.

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l Increasing the livestock manure nitrogen efficiency standard values used in calculating available nitrogen with effect from January 1, 2014.

l Reducing the time for which records need to be kept from five to three years.

l An increased individual field allowance in any 12-month period where compost is applied.

The Scottish Government will also be considering options to reduce record keeping for low-intensity farms and reducing buffer zone widths through the use of precision equipment.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead commented: "As required by European rules, we have reviewed our Nitrates Action Programme, in keeping with our commitment to cut needless bureaucracy for farmers. We have taken this opportunity to ensure the rules are proportionate, clear and effective.

"I hope farmers will find this clarification – and, in some cases, relaxation of the rules – welcome."

Market round-up

The Cumberland and Dumfriesshire Farmers Mart sold 6588 store hoggs, cast rams and feeding ewes at their annual special sale in Longtown on Tuesday.

Top prices and averages for store hoggs. Half-breds to £52.50 and averaged £48.61; Charollais £55.50 and £47.66; Lleyns £53.50 and £45.68; Suffolks £65 and £45.26; Texels £70 and £44.63; NCC £59.50 and £41.72; Greyfaces £48.50 and £38.95; Hill Cheviots £47 and £35.49; Blackfaces £53.50 and £27.26; Swaledales £31 and £23.18.

The firm went on to hold their weekly sale of prime stock in Dumfries yesterday when they had 44 head of cattle forward.

Bullocks sold to 224.5p per kg and averaged 214.2p, while heifers peaked at 229.5p and levelled at 213.1p.

There were 93 OTM cattle presented in the rough ring with beef cows averaging 125.6p and dairy cows levelling at 105.2p.

There were also 1412 prime hoggs that sold to £85 per head and 170p per kg to average 130.6p.

The 363 cast sheep forward saw heavy ewes sell to £97.50 for Texels and average £59.50, while light ewes peaked at £66.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £32.50.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 947 prime hoggs in Newton Stewart yesterday to a top of £67.50 and 161.5p to average 135.2p.

There were also 345 cast sheep forward with ewes selling to £82 for Texels and £46 for Blackfaces.