“My whole attitude is to try and have a farming system that works for the environment that I’m in…” Henry O’Donnell
The Farming for Nature (FFN) project is delighted to welcome Limerick farmer, Thomas Stack to their growing Ambassador network.
Henry O Donnell manages a mixed organic farm in the uplands of north Donegal. The 92-hectare farm is made up of different types of land – lowland pasture, marginal upland and commonage. He runs a flock of 60 horned upland ewes. The sheep enterprise is a low input and low-cost system. Henry also runs a herd of suckler cattle, half continental breeds and half Galloways, producing high quality organic beef. External inputs are extremely low on the farm. Henry has been experimenting with growing red clover swards for winter fodder, as well as multi-species swards for grazing on the lowlands. The animals graze a mixture of diverse vegetation throughout the year as they move from the lowlands to the uplands. Last year Henry moved the Galloways uphill even further to graze the commonage land – “Galloways have done an excellent job on the upland and commonage vegetation as they are non-selective grazers. They have removed a lot of millennia and dead grass, thus improving the biodiversity of the land. They have also improved the grazing for the sheep that are coming after them.” Henry is passionate about the importance of grazing animals in maintaining marginal uplands – through reducing fire risks, maintaining plant diversity and fertilizing the land. He is a strong advocate for low-impact, high nature value farming systems and this is reflected in the way in which he runs his own farm in the hills of Donegal.
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. Thomas 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 August 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.
For more information go to Henry’s farm here.