Soil Nutrient Health Scheme - Zone 2 Registrations open

Date published: 29 June 2023

Area of Expertise:

All farms eligible for Zone 2 sampling will receive a letter from AFBI in the coming days, inviting them to join the Soil Nutrient Heath Scheme, including instructions on the registration process, which opened on the 26 June. Registrations can be accessed online via the Government Gateway once farmers receive their letter.

Zone 2 of the SNHS opened on 26 June

This free service will provide participating farmers with:

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

Soil sampling will be undertaken by AFBI’s appointed sub-contractors RPS Group between November 2023 and February 2024 with fully accredited results available within 4-6 weeks. When the farm has been sampled and the soil reports received, each farmer will be invited to participate in CAFRE training and nutrient management planning.

View a user guide video on how to register, step-by-step

The SNHS is one of the most comprehensive regional soil nutrient sampling schemes to be undertaken anywhere in the world. It will enable Northern Ireland farmers to optimise crop nutrient applications, assess on-farm carbon stocks and build farm resilience.

Importantly, participating in the SNHS will also be a requirement for farmers accessing some future agricultural support schemes like the Farm Sustainability Payment and Farming with Nature. We would encourage farmers to register early to take advance of this free opportunity.

The information provided by the Scheme will allow farmers to target the application of crop nutrients to their soils, reduce nutrient waste and help increase farm profitability. Reductions in excess and better placement of nutrients should, in turn, lead to a decrease in losses to waterbodies and thereby contribute to achieving the targets of the Nutrient Action Programme. 

It will also provide a baseline assessment of farm carbon stocks in soils and hedgerows and contribute to the transition to Net Zero farming in Northern Ireland. For farms located in areas of basalt soils, research will assess nutrient interactions and grass nutrient uptake to produce refined fertiliser recommendations specific to these soils.

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 to enhance its sustainability;
  • Protecting animal, plant and human health;
  • Enhancing the natural and marine environment.

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