Soil Nutrient Health Scheme project launched

Date published: 08 April 2022

Area of Expertise:

The new Soil Nutrient Health Scheme (SNHS) was officially launched recently by the DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots. The SNHS is a four year, £45m significant new initiative aimed at improving soil nutrient health and estimating farm carbon stocks, right across Northern Ireland. The scheme will be delivered by AFBI with 27,000 farms and 77,000 fields being sampled by the end of the project.

DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots, launching the scheme with AFBI’s Dr Stanley McDowell, Chief Executive, Pieter-Jan Schön, Director of Environment and Marine Sciences Division and Dr Rachel Cassidy, Agri-Environment Branch

Announcing the scheme, Minister Poots said: “I am delighted to open this innovative and forward looking soil sampling and carbon analysis scheme that will be available to all farmers. I am encouraging farm businesses in Northern Ireland to participate in the Scheme to ensure they benefit from what it can offer.”

The SNHS will be rolled out in stages using a zonal approach, over the next four years.  Zone 1 farmers will be able to apply on-line using DAERA’s on-line services during May 2022. The collection of soil samples for Zone 1 will get underway in November 2022 under the direction of AFBI.  

The data captured from the SNHS will provide farmers with important information on soil nutrient levels for each field on their farm, as well as an estimate of the amount of carbon stored in their soils, hedgerows, and trees.

The information that the scheme will provide will help farmers more accurately match nutrient applications to crop need, increasing efficiency, reducing excess run-off to watercourses and improving their economic and environmental sustainability. They will also be provided with specific training on understanding and using the nutrient and carbon data on their farms.

Scheme guidance including maps of the specific sampling zones and opening times are now available from the DAERA website.

Notes to editors: 

AFBI is an arms-length body of DAERA delivering research and development, diagnostic and analytical testing, emergency response capability and expert scientific advice for DAERA and other government departments, public bodies and commercial companies in Northern Ireland, and further afield.

AFBI’s Vision is “Advancing the Local and Global Agri-Food Sectors Through Scientific Excellence”.

AFBI’s core areas:

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

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