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
SHNS zonal map
Sampling Underway

Sampling commenced in Zone 1 in November 2022 throughout County Down and parts of Counties Armagh and Antrim.

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

Farmers registered within Zone 1 are receiving confirmation of when the approved soil collection contractor RPS will be in their area to collect the soil samples from their fields.

NB: All farm businesses registered under the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme (SNHS) will be contacted by a member of the dedicated RPS communications team, prior to any fields being sampled. Soil samplers will have photographic identification which can be requested by the farmer on arrival.  Soil Samplers do not need access to sheds/ buildings/houses etc as they only require access to agricultural fields which the farmer has registered under the scheme.  The RPS helpdesk number is 02891 641331 (Mon - Fri 9am-5pm) if there are any concerns about sampler authenticity.

Zone 2 farmers are likely be able to register in the summer of 2023. Information on when farmers within the other zones 3 and 4 can register, will be provided in due course.

See all of the SNHS survey zone maps

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.

LiDAR image

Work has also started on the collection of LiDAR topographic data for the development of runoff risk maps and estimates of above ground biomass. In addition, there is a body of work taking place within the Basalt region of NI, assessing fertiliser recommendations, nutrient interactions and grass nutrient uptake specific to Basalt soils.

Contacts and Further Information

If you would like any further information please contact our office by telephone (028 90 255 212) or by email (SNHS@afbini.gov.uk).

DAERA have provided further information and FAQs on the scheme

A flyer on the Scheme can be viewed