Irwin welcomes soil sampling scheme plans

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA, pictured, has whole heartedly welcomed a free soil sampling scheme to be rolled out under the direction of DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA.

Mr Irwin said the scheme, which could be rolled out this year or by the latest the next financial year, will be a significant benefit to farmers and increase productivity.

He stated: “This will be a tremendously important scheme to farmers and I thank Minister Poots for his efforts in this regard and I trust that the scheme will be rolled out as soon as is practically and financially possible.

“Knowing the quality of soil and being able to accurately apply the correct nutrients is essential for productivity and as we know soils with low PH levels, lowers production and in turn affects productivity negatively. The ethos of this scheme lies in recent trial schemes which has given the Department the data and belief that such a scheme rolled out province wide would have significant benefits.”

He said: “This scheme will encourage farmers to have soil samples taken and will have a massive benefit to agriculture province wide and I know that farmers themselves will very much welcome the proposed financial assistance to be able to effectively monitor soil quality on their farms.

“Grass is our biggest natural asset and it makes absolute sense to have a system of financial aid in place that allows the soil to be tested and farmers provided with accurate data as to how the soil they work is performing and what that soil needs to get the best from it. There will also of course be significant knock on benefits for the environment as the Department will have province wide reliable and up to date data on soil quality and that will be a vital tool for future intervention schemes on issues such as climate change.”

He concluded: “I understand the Minister and his officials are preparing this business case for the Department of Finance. It is vital that in this era, where the climate and environmental debate is raging, that a scheme such as this that has been well thought out and has the environment and productivity at its core, gets the support necessary to see it rolled out as soon as possible. I will continue to support the case for this scheme and support Minister Poots in his determined efforts in this regard.”