Bruce Thompson runs dairy farm in Ballyfin County Laois. He is an 8th generation farmer. The farm which was traditionally a mixed farm is now a commercial dairy farm with a herd of 320 cows. In line with the Teagasc dairy roadmap, Bruce operates a grass based, high efficiency production system. With a young family, Bruce maintains that his farm has to be economically viable, and he is proud to currently employ 2 fulltime staff members on his farm.
In 2020, Bruce started a Nuffield Scholarship and from this he developed a passion for dung beetles. On his own farm he has a particular interest in reducing animal remedies through prevention, with a focus on animal wormers. He has made dramatic reductions in his wormer usage by making use of his farm microscope for diagnosis and pioneering new grazing strategies. Bruce is a strong advocate in the farming community for the urgent need to protect our dung beetle populations. He has started an EIP which is focusing on a targeted and selective approach to animal wormers in order to protect and increase dung beetle populations on the land. Bruce also successfully breeds dung beetles on his farm. Other nature actions taken on his farm include managing hedgerows for biodiversity, planting additional hedgerows and incorporating multi-species swards into his grassland.
Bruce believes more focus must be paid to the integration of ecology and agriculture. He is confident that food production and environmental protection can and must happen simultaneously.
Leadership within the intensive farming circles (EIP, discussion groups, school mentoring), work on dung beetle website to benefit other farmers, research about dung beetles, engaging and well connected with Irish and UK farmers and researchers to do with dung beetles. Breeding dung beetles. Developing grazing strategies that benefit dung beetles. Championing selective use of anthelmintics which benefit Dung beetles productivity.
Nominator: Suzanna Crampton, FFN Ambassador
Bruce runs a successful commercial 300+ head dairy farm in the Portlaoise Area. As part of his farming practices he focuses heavily on what he can do for wildlife and the habitats on the farm. He has particularly focused on the plight of the dung beetle, which is a key insect in farming providing farmers and society with numerous benefits. By reducing his anthelmintic drug use he has not only helped build a thriving dung beetle population on the farm but he has reduced his costs all without detrimental effects on the livestock. In fact, by increasing dung beetles he has improved the farm for the benefits of the livestock and the wider wildlife. Over the last year Bruce has also completed a Nuffield Scholarship looking at anthelmintic resistance control measures incorporating pastoral management and dung beetles to increase biodiversity, promoting the importance of dung beetles at the top level in farming. Not stopping there Bruce was instrumental in helping set up Dung Beetles for Famers, a group of farmers, entomologists and a vet, whose aim is to inform farmers and vets of the importance of these insects on farms. He has given large portions of his time to provide pragmatic information for farmers showing how it can be done. Alongside that he has been on all media platforms across Ireland and the UK promoting dung beetles and showing farming can be done with nature, ranging from webinars, to conferences, TV appearances and a high profile on social media. Also, Bruce has been instrumental in forming an EIP (European Innovation Partnership) with a group of dairy farmers from his own Teagasc Dairy discussion group who have funding to look at dung beetle numbers on their farms and how they can improve farming practices to support them whilst also getting material gains from changes in farming practices. Through Bruce’s efforts showing how it is possible to farm with nature and support dung beetles on farms a wider audience is now aware of why dung beetles are important to our farming landscape.
Nominator: James Allen, Founder, Dung Beetles For Farmers