Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) are employed as compulsory instruments to meet standards on EU water quality. Farmers operating in NVZs face a number of restrictions on agricultural activity and a greater requirement for record keeping in relation to timing and quantities of nitrogen inputs used. This paper presents results of a survey into the attitudes and values of farmers within the designated Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) in Scotland. A typology based on perceptions towards water quality management was developed using factor and cluster analysis techniques. Three types were identified as 'resistors', 'apathists' and 'multifunctionalists'. The 'resistors' and the 'multifunctionalists' had similar approaches to land use management, but then diverged in terms of their perceptions towards the environment, water management and the NVZ regulations in particular. The apathists were indifferent towards the aims of the regulation and to water quality management in general. This was also evidenced by their lack of uptake of voluntary measures for improving water quality. The lack of engagement from the 'apathists', which represent around a third of the responses to the survey, is particularly problematic for policy makers. There is a need for greater targeting of information to this farmer type emphasising favourable perceptions which encourage water quality management behaviours. © 2011 University of Newcastle upon Tyne.