James farms suckler cows, cross bred sheep and horned ewes on his farm. Having been disillusioned with his farming system he has recently established a herd of Galloway cattle and Mayo ewes with a vision to match his livestock type with his land type where he had found that all his income was being used to purchase feed for his animals. He is a founder member of the group that created the Inishowen Uplands European innovation Partnership. He has agreed to be a demonstration farmer for the project which will entail planting trees on the farm for the agroforestry measure, grazing cattle on the uplands in a managed way, establishing diverse clover swards, using red clover for fodder conservation and creating ponds on the farm.
He intends to create a riparian zone along a river on his farm and to increase the resilience of his farm by strategic planting of trees and hedges. He wants to increase the grazing season by strategic planting which will increase water infiltration, capture nutrients and provide shelter while increasing biodiversity and increasing carbon sequestration.
By using mixed grazing of the uplands with suitable cattle and sheep he hopes to decrease the amount of rank and dead vegetation to provide better grazing for all his animals which will in turn increase the biodiversity and improve the habitat for ground nesting birds.
He wants to increase the use of clover on the farm to reduce his dependence on artificial fertilisers which have a huge carbon footprint and can have many negative outcomes for the environment. He wants to use diverse swards to make full use of the soil strata on his farm, to improve ,soil structure, water infiltration ,worm burdens and traffic-ability.
James believes that all of these measures can have a positive effect of sustainability and profitability of the farm in the future. He says he has a lot to do and some of the measures, especially the agroforestry type measures will take time to show results but he is confident it will be worth it in the end.
Nominator: Henry O'Donnell, Project Manager, Inishowen Uplands European Innovation Partnership