An update on DAERA’s Zone 1 Soil Nutrient Health Scheme ahead of the closed period for slurry spreading ending
Soil sampling, as part of DAERA's Soil Nutrient Health Scheme, has been continuing since November 2022 for farmers in Zone 1, which is comprised of County Down and parts of Counties Armagh and Antrim.
With 95 per cent uptake, the sampling contractor RPS is working intensively to cover the 151,000 fields registered for this season.
Currently, it expects that 80,000 individual fields will have been sampled by the end of January.
As such, there will still be fields with sampling pending when the closed period for slurry spreading ends on 31 January 2023.
This is due to a number of factors, including the unsuitable weather conditions for soil sampling encountered in December 2022.
RPS is working hard to make up for the downtime and to maximise the number of fields that will be sampled during the closed period.
In addition, during the next three to four weeks, RPS will prioritise those farm businesses with lowland and intensively managed fields as these are more likely to receive nutrients soon after the closed period ends.
Upland fields which do not in the main receive nutrients, will be sampled after the beginning of March.
You can use the link below to view sampling activity across the Zone 1 area at https://bit.ly/3YDcJLr
If you are a farmer in Zone 1 who has applied for SNHS, and are planning your first slurry or chemical fertiliser applications in early February 2023 and have not yet had your lands sampled, you should contact RPS at [email protected] to see if you can be prioritised and samples taken before application.
The Soil Nutrient Health Scheme was opened by then minister, Edwin Poots, back in March 2022.
The publicly funded scheme, which is worth up to £45m and managed by AFBI, aims to create a unique baseline on soil nutrient status for Northern Ireland agricultural land and continues to gather momentum. Creating the baseline from the scheme will be a valuable dataset for farmers to measure and manage their land to improve efficiency.
Opening the scheme, Edwin Poots said: “Equipping farmers with this information will help them more accurately match nutrient applications to crop need, thereby increase efficiency, reducing excess run-off to watercourses and improving their economic and environmental sustainability.”