Minister Poots praises Zone 1 farmers who have registered for the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme

Date published: 21 September 2022

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots has thanked all the farmers who have registered in Zone 1 during the first phase of the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme (SNHS).

Minister Poots said: “The SNHS online registration process has allowed farmers in Zone 1 – County Down and parts of Counties Armagh and Antrim - to register their fields and I thank all those farmers who took the time to submit their applications. Uptake has been very successful with over 90% of eligible fields registered, and I look forward to the scheme providing our farmers with key information, on which future farming decisions can be based.

“The SNHS is a large and innovative scheme representing an investment of up to £45m in our farming sector. Participating in the scheme will provide farmers with vital and detailed information, firstly on managing soil nutrients and later, on farm carbon stocks.  Farmers registered to the scheme will be contacted by AFBI’s soil collection contractor, RPS Group, to let them know when their soil samples will be collected. Soil sample collection routes are now being planned and will mainly start in mid November 2022 and run until February 2023 for Zone 1.”  

Once the fields have been sampled, farmers can expect to receive their soil sample analysis results and fertiliser recommendations directly from the soil analysis contractor, NRM within 4-6 weeks. They will subsequently be provided with access to their map-based soil nutrient results and runoff risk maps. The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) will then offer training to help farmers interpret their soil analysis results, provide an understanding of Nutrient Management Planning and the role of carbon on farms.

DAERA is also interested in understanding why some farmers in Zone 1 did not register by 31 August and they will be contacted for feedback about their reasons for not joining the Scheme. In addition, DAERA will be seeking the views of a number of farmers in Zone 1 about the registration process and to ask them to suggest ways it could be improved for future registration periods for Zones 2, 3 and 4.

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