Mariann runs a stud farm in Swordlestown Little County Kildare. She bought the land with her husband in 1998 and they have built a successful stud farm where they breed thoroughbred horses. There are between 10-12 breeding mares on the land along with their followers, meaning the farm is run at a low stocking density of approximately 20-30 horses at any given time. The farming system is extensive, and no chemicals are used on the land. Hay or silage is cut off the multispecies grassland and used for winter feeding. A neighbours cattle graze the pasture during the summer months and sheep graze the pasture during the winter. Mariann ensures the stocking density is never too high and the land is aerated every year to minimise soil compaction.
A nature lover her entire life, Mariann places biodiversity and wildlife at the centre of every decision relating to the land. Thick and mature hedgerows line every field and corridor on the farm. A pond was dug on the land a few years ago and it has become a central point on the farm, attracting an abundance of insects and birds. There is steam on the land which provides further water habitat and there is an area of wetland on the farm as well. Thanks to all of their hard work in creating and protecting farmland habitats on the land, there are significant numbers of different bird species, as well as badgers, foxes, deer and pine marten. Mariann is continuously looking for ways to enhance biodiversity and habitats on her farm, future plans include another pond, more tree planting and a riparian zone.
Mariann is farming in Swordlestown Little since 1998. She is a qualified vet and is originally from Switzerland. She breeds thoroughbred racehorses on the farm. Mariann has researched extensively about parasites in horses, particularly Rhodococcus. Mariann farms her land with every consideration given to the animals and wildlife that inhabit it. She works in partnership with her farm and with nature. Her farm is a hive of activity from the birds and the bees, the wild flowers, the owl and her pride and joy ‘The Pond’. The pond and it’s surroundings deserves a special mention as it has provided a habitat for an immeasurable amount of insects and wildlife. The farm uses no chemical fertiliser and focuses on improving the biology of the soil by using organic soil amendments. There is a focus on diversity on the farm and the diversity of the type of grass and herbs in the fields for the animals. A big focus on the farm is primary source of nutrition that the animals get from the field and improving the earth worm and dung beetle population has an impact on the nutrients in the plants. This also includes sowing herbal mixtures into the fields in spring. The farm is lined from pillar to post with untouched hedgerows connecting each field and pathway with songs from the symphony of birds living in the trees. Mariann has quietly established the farm as a biodiversity hub and strives for continuous improvement. It is a testimony to Mariann’s hard work that her farm has become a visiting destination for other farmers wanting to improve the habitats on their own farms. She recently had a visit from BirdWatch Ireland.
Nominator: Tom Stapleton, Soil Advisor, Soil.ie