Soil Nutrient Health Scheme

Area of Expertise:

The Soil Nutrient Health Scheme is the largest baseline soil sampling programme ever undertaken. It is being managed by AFBI and due to the scale and complexity of the scheme, it is being rolled out on a zonal basis with all the zones completed by 2026. All farmers will be given the opportunity to join the scheme.

SNHS Zonal Map  
View the SNHS Maps Zones 1-4 

Zone 2 Sampling Commences
SNHS Sampler
Soil Sampling in Zone 1

Zone 2 covers the remainder of farms in Co Armagh, South Tyrone which were not included in Zone 1 and all of Co Fermanagh.  Registration for Zone 2 has now closed and sampling commenced 25 October 2023.  Registered farmers will be contacted in due course by the sampling contractors RPS to schedule a suitable sampling date.  The main sampling period runs from November - February.  It is important that farmers advise of any fields with late slurry/manure applications.  In the meantime farmers with queries can contact RPS T: 028 96928388 or the AFBI SNHS Helpdesk  T: 028 90 255212.
View the Zone 2 flyer -  to find out more.

See where the samplers are working currently view the Sampler Location Map 

Zone 1 Training Update

CAFRE Training
Zone 1 Training by CAFRE is  available to all participating farmers in zone 1 who have received their analysis report. A series of 3 on farm events took place during September 2023, focussing on using the results and finding out about the training available. The training will assist with understanding nutrient management, the role of carbon and completing a nutrient management plan, please visit CAFRE Training.   

Soil Sampling

SNHS sampler
Sampling in Zone 1
Sampling in Zone 1 over the 2022/23 period, throughout County Down and parts of Counties Armagh and Antrim  
sampled and analysed in excess of 132,700 fields by the beginning of September 2023. This is unprecedented and dwarfs the numbers taken as part of any previous national soil sampling programme.

Watch the video below to find out more about the sampling process.

SNHS Benefits

The SNHS is one of the most comprehensive regional soil nutrient sampling schemes to be undertaken anywhere in the world.
With the potential to sample approximately 700,000 fields it will provide the farmers of Northern Ireland with:

  1. Detailed information on the nutrient status of their soils
  2. Runoff risk maps for nutrient loss to waterbodies for each field sampled
  3. Estimates of carbon stored in their soils and as above ground biomass for each farm
  4. Training on the interpretation of soil nutrient reports and generation of farm nutrient plans (provided by CAFRE).

This information will allow farmers to optimize the application of crop nutrients to their soils and help increase farm profitability. This will result in a reduction in nutrient loss to waterbodies thereby contributing to achieving the targets of the Nutrient Action Programme. It will also provide a baseline assessment of farm carbon stocks in soils and hedgerow and contribute to the transition to Net Zero farming in Northern Ireland.

Case studies

Carbon Research - LiDAR

LiDAR Flight
Capturing LiDAR Data

LiDAR image

A high-resolution LiDAR scan of Northern Ireland will provide a basis of modelling activities to estimate above ground biomass held in trees, woodlands and the 120,000 km of hedgerows in the region.
SNHS is also gathering information on rates of soil C sequestration in grassland fields on selected commercial farms and along undisturbed field boundaries on different soil types in Northern Ireland (involving radio-carbon dating and soil microbiological assessments). Ongoing research will investigate how fungal and bacterial communities are affected by management and elucidatemechanisms and processes governing changes in soil C storage in grassland and hedgerow soils. Information arising from this research will be used to update the UK soil C inventory, and to identify management strategies which enhance C capture by soil and above ground biomass.

Contacts and Further Information

If you would like any further information please contact our office by telephone (028 90 255 212) or

DAERA have provided further information and FAQs on the scheme

Read More: 
Soil Nutrient Health Scheme flyer 
Soil Nutrient Health Scheme overview
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