Over 90% of eligible fields have registered to take part in Northern Ireland's new Soil Nutrient Health Scheme, the Department of Agriculture (DAERA) has confirmed.
Farmers located in zone one of the scheme - consisting of Co Down and parts of Co Armagh and Antrim - were encouraged by DAERA to apply before the 31 August deadline.
The objective of the scheme is to test all, or the vast majority, of the 700,000 fields used for farming in the province in order to help farmers manage their nutrient applications.
If farmers do not decide to register, they will fall short of the eligibility criteria which must be met to receive future agriculture support payments.
These include the Farm Sustainability Payment, Beef Sustainability Scheme and Farming With Nature Scheme.
The three new payments will be significant income streams for farmers going forward, replacing the majority of support currently offered by the BPS.
DAERA Minister Edwin Poots has confirmed that uptake in zone one had been 'very successful', with over 90% of eligible fields registered.
Mr Poots said: “I look forward to the scheme providing our farmers with key information, on which future farming decisions can be based.
“The SNHS is a large and innovative scheme representing an investment of up to £45m in our farming sector.
"Participating in the scheme will provide farmers with vital and detailed information, firstly on managing soil nutrients and later, on farm carbon stocks."
DAERA is also interested in understanding why some farmers in zone 1 did not register by 31 August, and they will be contacted for feedback about their reasons for not joining.
In addition, the department will be seeking the views of a number of farmers in zone 1 about the registration process to improve for future registrations for zones 2, 3 and 4.