“I am farming in sympathy with nature because I see it as the future of farming in a time when consumers are tuned into greener more traceable food products. In a time of rapidly rising input costs it is becoming apparent that lower inputs and more care for the soil can be profitable for primary producers” says Pat McKenna
The Farming for Nature (FFN) project is delighted to welcome Monaghan farmer, Pat McKenna to their growing Ambassador network.
Pat Mckenna farms a Dexter suckler herd in Co. Monaghan. The farm is situated on 60 acres of marginal land at the foothills of Sliabh Beagh. The herd consists of about 90 cattle and Pat operates a calf to beef system. The premium Dexter beef is sold direct to restaurants and local customers. Last year Pat took part in the Sliabh Beagh conservation grazing trial. The objective of this trial is to reduce fire risks on the mountain. Sliabh Beagh is also a hen harrier protected area. “Using cattle and a conservation grazing system on the mountain aims to improve the habitat by breaking down the pasture, loosening it and opening it up.” This means there is more life on the ground thus providing a better chance for the hen harrier and other ground nesting birds. Pat operates a low input farming system. No chemical fertilizer is used on the land. The only inputs are farmyard manure, slurry and dry bedding. Pat’s farm is located in a curlew protected area, as such he does not cut any grass until July/August. There is a traditional hay meadow on the farm of about 7 acres. There was 12 acres of broadleaf forestry planted 8 years ago, which provides a habitat for many birds and creatures.
Now in its fourth year, Farming For Nature was set up with an aim to source, share and celebrate the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature, while providing a livelihood for their family. Pat is part of this year’s 23 ambassadors that come from across Ireland and include beef, sheep, forestry, dairy, horticulture and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of very valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows. The Farming For Nature ambassador network is made up of family farms, couples, and both male and female farmers.
FFN is featuring their Ambassadors on a bi-monthly basis until June 2022. Keep an eye on FFN’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms to learn more about these wonderful farmers and the valuable work they are doing for nature on their land. FFN will work with these inspiring ambassadors to produce farm videos, podcasts, ‘Ask the Farmer’ sessions, farm walks and more. Go to www.farmingfornature.ie to learn about this incredible network of Ambassador farmers and to access further information, resources and tips.
The Farming for Nature Awards are sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Rural Network.