Deadline for Soil Nutrient Health Scheme extended

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots has extended the period for farmers in Zone 1 to register online for the new Soil Nutrient Health Scheme (SNHS).

The closing date for registration is now extended to 31 August 2022.

Announcing the extension, Minister Poots said: “The SNHS online registration period, was due to close on 8 July 2022. However, I recognise that this is a very busy period on farms and therefore, have asked my Department to extend the registration period to 31 August 2022.”

He continued: “The SNHS is a large and innovative scheme representing an investment of up to £45million in our farming sector. Participating in the scheme will provide farmers with vital detailed information on managing soil nutrients and farm carbon. “Crucially, it will be a requirement for farmers to have participated in the SNHS if they wish to receive payments under future support schemes from 2024, such as the new Farm Sustainability and Beef Sustainability Payments which may be very important income streams for farms.

Pictured at launch of the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme with Environment Minister Edwin Poots (L-R) are Dr Stanley McDowell, Minister Pieter-Jan Schön and Rachel Cassidy from AFBI.

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“Due to the fact that we are making this scheme available to all farmers in NI – it has to be rolled out in zones over the next four years. So farmers will only be able to register for the scheme when it is made available in their area. Therefore, as roll out has commenced for farmers in Zone 1, it is vital that they register online before 31 August 2022 to avail of the scheme.”

Minister Poots concluded: “I understand there is some concern out there among farmers that the data collected in the SNHS could be used for enforcement purposes. So I want to reassure them that this is not the case and that their individualised data will not be used for any enforcement purposes by officials.”

Farmers can register for the SNHS via DAERA online services in a similar way to entering their single application form, or they can authorise their agent to apply on their behalf. Alternatively, they can book an appointment in their local DAERA office where trained Customer Service Branch staff will complete the application for them.