If you are a farmer in West County Armagh, South Tyrone or all of Fermanagh, now is your chance to register for Zone 2 of DAERA’s Soil Nutrient Health Scheme. The deadline is fast approaching on 31 August 2023.
This is a world leading scheme which will help you understand your soil nutrients, pH levels and carbon stored in your soils. The scheme will help you with nutrient management planning and guidance in preventing run off and nutrient loss to watercourses.
Zone 1 of the scheme was launched in 2022 and over 90% farmers in the southeast of Northern Ireland are already taking part and benefitting from the results they are receiving. They also have access to online training from DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE). This training is helping them to interpret their soil analysis reports and prepare soil nutrient management plans.
If you have fields in Zone 2 you are asked to register as soon as possible. You can register online using your Government Gateway Account, through your agricultural agent or by making an appointment with your local DAERA office.
Katrina Godfrey, DAERA Permanent Secretary, has encouraged farmers to register saying: “We have seen good interest in the scheme so far, however the deadline will not be extended beyond 31 August. I urge all farm businesses within Zone 2 to register at their earliest opportunity and not miss out on participation in this important scheme which aims to improve sustainability and efficiency in the farming sector.
"It is also important for farmers to note that participation in the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme will be a condition for future Farm Sustainability Payments, which will replace the Basic Payment Scheme.”
The Soil Nutrient Health Scheme is managed by the Agri-food Biosciences Institute (AFBI) on behalf of DAERA.
Pieter-Jan Schön, Director of Environment and Marine Sciences at AFBI commented: “The Soil Nutrient Health Scheme will provide farmers with important information on soil nutrient and pH levels for each field on their farm. Participation will also give these farmers access to an online portal where they can view their results and print off their farm maps.
“Farmers will receive maps showing areas at high risk of runoff and nutrient loss to watercourses and a first baseline estimate of the amount of carbon stored in their soils, hedgerows and trees.
“This information will help them match nutrient applications to crop needs more accurately, which will help to increase efficiency while also reducing the farm’s environmental footprint.
“To date 2,440 farms have registered in Zone 2 and we do not want any farmers to miss out on this opportunity to get a completely free soil analysis baseline for their farms.”
If you have fields in Zone 2 and you have not already registered, please take the necessary steps to take part in the Scheme. For more information visit the AFBI website.
This £37 million DAERA-funded project, which is being delivered by AFBI, is open to all 27,000 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.
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