Most farmers have heeded the warnings from DAERA about potentially losing out on future farm payments, with 92% of the 7,427 registered farm businesses in Zone 2 of the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme (SNHS) signed up to participate.
The figures provided by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) also show that 189,959 fields in the zone have been registered, which represents 92% of the declared fields.
Zone 2 of the scheme covers farms in Fermanagh, south Tyrone and west Armagh. Participation rates are similar to Zone 1 – when 89% of farmers, mainly in Co Down, registered by the deadline in 2022.
An AFBI spokesperson confirmed that soil sample collection routes are now being planned for Zone 2 and will run until March 2024.
There are also some fields still to be sampled in Zone 1.
“The majority of fields will be sampled from November onward, but where early sampling has been requested AFBI’s soil collection contractor, RPS Group, will prioritise those from mid-September on,” said the spokesperson.
They added that RPS Group will contact individual farmers in advance of sampling using the phone number registered with DAERA, and that it is important farmers make RPS aware of any fields that have received late slurry or manure applications.
Once fields have been sampled, results should be available within four to six weeks.
Map-based soil nutrient results and runoff risk maps will be provided via DAERA online services, and farmers will be contacted by CAFRE regarding training in interpreting the results.
Anyone with queries can contact RPS on: 028-969-28388, or call the AFBI SNHS helpdesk at 028-902-55212.