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Soil Nutrient Health Scheme

The objective of the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme (SNHS) is to test all, or the vast majority, of the 700,000 fields used for farming in Northern Ireland, in order to help farmers manage their nutrient applications.

Due to the scale and complexity of the SNHS, the programme will be rolled out in ‘zones’ throughout Northern Ireland; beginning in Zone 1, County Down and County Armagh, in 2022, with the remaining three zones completed by 2026.

Farm businesses within each zone will receive a letter from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) indicating when each zone is open for registration, you are urged to register as soon as possible after receiving this letter.

Registration for Zone 1 has now closed. Farmers registered within Zone 1 will receive confirmation in late autumn time, of when the approved soil collection contractor RPS Group will be in their area to collect the soil samples.

Registration for Zone 2 farmers will likely open in the summer of 2023. Information on when farmers within the other zones 3 and 4 can register will be provided in due course.


When participating in SNHS, farmers will receive free soil sampling, analysis and LiDAR mapping of all fields under their control, this will provide farmers with;

  • Detailed information on soil nutrient status
  • Nutrient status and run-off risk maps
  • Carbon store estimates

Sampling will be carried out by an appointed contractor RPS and Cawood Scientific (NRM Laboratories) will provide the analysis.

CAFRE training will be available to all participating farmers which will assist with understanding nutrient management, the role of carbon and completing a nutrient management plan.

The information provided to farmers participating in SNHS will assist in optimising the application of crop nutrients and reducing nutrient loss to waterways, while increasing farm profitability.

The results of the SNHS will assist farmer to identify fields with low pH, high or low indexes and areas which have greater potential for runoff of nutrients into waterways, potentially harming the environment and causing a financial loss to the business.

It is important to be aware that the Future Agricultural Policy Decisions for NI, announced by DAERA in March 2022, includes a condition that participation in the SNHS will be required in order to be eligible for the Farm Sustainability Payment the successor to Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).