SNHS Sampling concluding for 2023/24

Date published: 20 March 2024

Area of Expertise:

Sampling is entering its final weeks on the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme (SNHS) for another busy year.

Zone 2: RPS Samplers pictured at Baronscourt, Co Tyrone (Credit: Brian Moore).

128,000 fields have been sampled in the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme during the 2023/24 sampling period. This makes a total of 261,000 fields sampled across Zone1 and 2 during the two years of the Scheme to date.

The £37 million DAERA-funded project is being delivered by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and is open to all Category 1 farm businesses in Northern Ireland, with a potential for up to 700,000 fields to be sampled by the end of the project in 2026. The aim of the four-year scheme is to improve efficiency in the farming sector while reducing environmental impact, particularly on our rivers and lakes. 

Dr Rachel Cassidy the SNHS Project Lead (AFBI), commented “Sampling in Zone 2 was expected to be challenging due to generally wetter ground conditions in the west in winter, and mitigations were in place to deal with this.

However, the unprecedented wet and wintery weather experienced over the sampling period has been difficult for the samplers and left some areas too wet for sampling”.

Dr Cassidy explained “Any remaining unsampled fields which are not due to receive nutrient applications will be rescheduled for sampling during April/May 2024. All other fields will be rescheduled for this autumn.”

Within 4-6 weeks of sampling farmers will receive a soil nutrient report directly from NRM laboratories in the post. This will contain tables of results and recommendations based on their supplied crop information, including details of the nutrient, pH and soil organic matter levels in each field. These results and risk maps will also be available online via the DAERA online portal

The next step for a farm business, once they receive their results, is to complete the training element of SNHS being delivered by CAFRE.  Completion of training is also a requirement to secure future farm payments. The training is available online via the CAFRE website and will help farmers to gain a better understanding of their soil results and to develop a nutrient management plan.

AFBI are already making preparation for Zone 3 of the scheme which is due to open for registration summer 2024, covering the North West and the northern half of Co Tyrone. Eligible farmers will be contacted directly and invited to register their business.

Queries or further information on the Scheme can be directed to the AFBI SNHS Helpdesk team by telephone (028 90 255212) or by email

Information can also be found from the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme section of the AFBI website.

A set of Frequently Asked Questions is available for more information on the Scheme

Notes to editors: 

AFBI’s Vision is “Scientific excellence delivering impactful and sustainable outcomes for society, economy and the natural environment”.

AFBI’s Purpose is “To deliver trusted, independent research, statutory and surveillance science and expert advice that addresses local and global challenges, informs government policy and industry decision making, and underpins a sustainable agri-food industry and the natural and marine environments”.

AFBI’s core areas:

  • Leading improvements in the agri-food industry to enhance its sustainability.
  • Protecting animal, plant and human health.
  • Enhancing the natural and marine environment.

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