Farming for Nature Welcomes on Board Limerick Dairy Farmer To the Growing Network
“The biggest change I’ve seen is that I notice nature more and I see it all around me everyday. When your too busy you don’t have time to notice. I don’t feel as busy or as under as much pressure since I’ve started to take account of what’s around me.”
The Farming for Nature (FFN) project is delighted to welcome Limerick farmer Gearoid Maher to their growing Ambassador network. Gearoid Maher farms 80 hectares in Cappamore Co. Limerick. He has a dairy herd of purebred friesians, milking 80 cows in total. The animals graze from mid-March to the end of October. Hay and silage are cut from the land and fed to the cattle during the winter months. Gearoid feeds locally grown sugar beet to the cows over winter, this has halved the amount of concentrates fed on the farm.
The land is a heavy clay type and requires careful management. Gearoid carries out regular soil tests to determine what specific nutrients are required in each field and at what exact quantity – “I reduced my nitrogen use by approx. 25% on the farm last year as I now have the proper equipment.” He has been gradually increasing the clover content in the grassland and has sown some multispecies grass swards on the farm – with the aim of improving the soil biology and reducing the amount of fertilizer needed in the future.
Gearoid is passionate about increasing biodiversity on the farm. He has planted trees all around the farm, an orchard by the house, as well as hedges and tree lines throughout the fields. There is 20 acres of forestry on the land and the aim is to thin the forest and allow the cows dig up and graze the ground vegetation which will help regenerate the forest floor. Gearoid doesn’t believe in chasing targets on his farm – he enjoys a slower pace of farming ensuring both his animals and nature thrive – “The old rule of thumb was a cow to the acre – and that has been my ethos all along. If I can farm a cow to the acre without pressure then that’s what I’ll do.”
Now in its fourth year, FFN 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. This years FFN Ambassadors 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 FFN ambassador network is made up of family farms, couples, and both male and female farmers. Being part of farming for nature means that I get to meet like minded people and share ideas. The farming for nature circle will only get bigger and its great to be apart of it. Says Gearoid.
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 on Gearoid’s farm go here.