Michael Seymour is a 4th generation farmer from Borrisokane Co Tipperary. He runs a mixed organic farm, keeping a small suckler herd of Angus cattle and about 95 Texel ewes. Some of the organic meat produced on the farm is sold direct to a loyal customer base. The 50ha farm is comprised of some better grassland, some poorer grassland and callow. The farm was never intensively managed, with no chemicals used on the land and the grassland was never reseeded, and so it remains today a diverse permanent pasture. The river Ballyfinboy runs through a large portion of the land and often floods some of the grassland in the winter months. This callow habitat is teaming with biodiversity and contains a variety of wildflowers and insect life. The farm is extensively managed, and Michael takes great pride in managing a farm that is productive and biodiverse - “I'm farming in harmony with nature, meaning I don't push the land. I know how much grass and silage my land can produce naturally, and I produce my stock according to that”. The animals overwinter indoors and silage is cut off the better land to provide winter feeding. The mature hedgerows contain a large variety of species such as crab-apple, hazel, hawthorn, willow, ash, blackthorn, elder, honeysuckle, dogrose, spindle and guelder rose. There are riparian zones along the river, protecting the watercourse and creating habitat for wildlife. Michael is a believer of working with the land and learning from the land “I remember once letting cows out into a lovely green field and the first thing they did was go over to the ditch and start eating the nettles. It told me that there is something important there in the hedges that we may not know about, but the animals do.”
I have visited the farm of Michael and Olive Seymour a few times for knowledge transfer events on their 50ha organic holding. I have been most impressed by the quality of the hedgerows on the farm. There are many mature hedgerows with great species diversity. I noticed fine crabapple, hazel, hawthorn, willow, ash, blackthorn and elder trees, for example. There were great displays of honeysuckle, dogrose, spindle, gueldar rose and bramble. An old disused laneway has a double bank hedgerow which provides great habitat for birds, insect and bats etc.
The farm has the Ballyfinboy river passing through it and there is nice riparian areas providing shade and mixed plant species. The lower lying section of the farm is rushy ground/rough grazing, also of significant value to a broad range of creatures. The suckler herd are housed during winter and the ewes lamb inside.
Michael and Olive and their daughter Lauren finish their beef and lamb, which is sold direct to their customers/consumers. This is bound to be nutrient dense from this well managed organic system. Grazing and fodder areas are rotated on the farm in an effort to build soil fertility. The farm is full symbol organic since 1999. Michael is the 4th generation of Seymours at Sheepwalk farm.
Nominator: Sean O Farrell, FFN Ambassador