Joe Roche

Joe Roche is a dairy farmer managing 69 hectares (170 ac) of land near Gorey, Co. Wexford. With a herd of 115 cows, he operates a conventional spring and autumn calving system, milking year-round. He is a derogation farmer and has recently participated in the Ballymoney Stream EIP.

As part of that project, he dug a pond on his land, which collects water off the road and that he is now delighted to see is full with frogspawn in the Springtime. He ‘likes to see nature growing and developing, when you were young you would see lizards and eels and you didn’t realise the importance of them at the time. It would be nice to see them coming back’. Participation in the EIP helped achieve that on Joe’s farm. Bat and bird boxes were installed, and alongside that, 50 bats were found in a roost in an old farmhouse.

Around 5 hectares (12 ac) of the farm are under woodland, some of which is wet woodland. Joe holds hedgerows in high esteem and is continuously striving to improve their management, he has ‘been watching hedges for a long time and proper management of the hedges going forward is going to be crucial’. Equally concerned about water quality, he has signed up for Strathroy’s sustainable water scheme which will be building on the work he has already done to protect the Ballymoney stream in the last few years.

NOMINATOR: Hannah Denniston, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Joe is the third generation of the family farming at Ballinacarrig Farm, Ballymoney, Co. Wexford. The dairy farm covers 69Ha and has a herd of approximately 115 cows. Joe considers himself as a caretaker of the land and this is reflected in variety of habitat and wildlife present on the farm today. The farm has a history of providing ecosystem services with wells providing clean water to the community in the 1870/80s. Joe’s daughters are also involved and interested in ensuring that the farm is working to the best of its potential to provide sustainable ecosystem services.

Although the farm is a highly productive dairy enterprise, nature has always been respected and there is a variety of wildlife habitats on the farm including healthy hedgerows, a wet woodland of 1Ha, a plantation of 400 birch, Scot’s pine and ash trees, and an area of rocky outcrop (approx. 2.8Ha) which has been allowed to remain wild with scrub and only roughly grazed. In the last five years Joe has introduced multi-species swards on the farm, starting with 3.25Ha and increasing to 13.3Ha currently.

In 2021/22 Joe and his farm were key participants in the Ballymoney Stream EIP. As part of the work the core members took part in measures to assess, improve and protect the biodiversity of their coastal stream catchment. Importantly this project had a strong community basis and Joe worked as a leader in sharing this work and through outreach actions involving both the community and visitors.

The Ballymoney stream rises on the farm and measures taken to increase biodiversity and reduce water pollution risks, included conversation of two fields to multispecies grassland, restoring an old stream stretch and wetlands, verge habitat management and wet woodland management changes. As part of a bat survey carried out for the EIP a nursery roost of common pipistrelles was found in the farmhouse. The stream was found to support 7 species in total with 2 species of particular importance – the Whiskered bat and Natterer’s bat.

Joe’s respect for nature has been key to keeping a balance between nature and farming on his land and has meant that wildlife still has a place on his farm today.

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