Alan Wood is a lifelong farmer from Crossmolina County Mayo. Along with his wife Vivienne, Alan manages a mixed dairy and beef farm. The dairy aspect of the farm is conventional and extensively managed, with 50 milking cows on the farm. Alan also runs a suckler herd and a herd of pedigree Charolais cattle. The farm is located on the north-western shores of Lough Conn and within two protected sites including the River Moy Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Lough Conn and Lough Cullin Special Protection Area. The grassland is a mixture of permanent pasture and improved pasture, all of which is managed very extensively.
In the winter months, the wetland habitats are full of wildlife such as otter, ducks, teal, lapwings and curlew. The wet grassland by the lake is home to a flock of Greenland-white fronted geese which migrate from their breeding grounds in Greenland to Alan’s farm every year. Flocks of whooper swans from Iceland also use these fields to feed over the winter months. Alan and his family take great pride in seeing the return of these wildfowl to the land every year, and they are proud to manage the farm in a way that protects biodiversity and wildlife on the land. Alan maintains traditional ways of farming where possible and the family share their unique farming story by hosting a farm tour with the local school every year.
Alan Wood is a brilliant ambassador for farming with nature. Located on the north western shores of Lough Conn outside Crossmolina, Alan’s farm is situated within and adjacent to two European protected sites including the River Moy Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Lough Conn and Lough Cullin Special Protection Area (SPA). Alan, with the support of his family, farms with respect and admiration for nature, leaving significant areas of ground untouched to support biodiversity. In winter, the wetland habitats below the farm are busy with ducks such as wigeon and teal and waders including lapwing and curlew, by far the best area for waterbirds on the lake. Otter are frequently seen swimming along this stretch of wild, untouched shoreline. The improved grassy fields are also a critical refuge for the flock of Greenland-white fronted geese which migrate from their breeding grounds in artic Greenland to the low intensively managed fields in Alan Wood’s farm. Flocks of whooper swans from Iceland also use these fields to feed over the winter months. These wildfowl are left alone with minimal disturbance from farming activities and can feed and roost due to the respect and understanding Alan and his family have for these birds. Alan uses very little fertiliser and only target sprays where necessary to avoid using excessive chemicals on the land. Alan and his family also facilitates visits from local school groups to teach the children about farming and the nature and wildlife around the farm and lake shore. Alan Wood, his family and NPWS have had a very good relationship over the years and are always encouraged onto the farm to conduct bird surveys and other monitoring work. There is also a bird hide on the farm to view the birds without disturbing them.
Nominator: Hazel Doyle, Conservation Ranger, NPWS