Pat O Brien
Pat O’Brien is a tillage farmer based in Cahir County Tipperary. Pat used to manage a farm shop on-site where he supplied potatoes and apples, but he has stood back from farm shop and now runs a 110-acre tillage operation growing wheat, barley, beans and oilseed rape. Having noticed a decline in the health of his soil in more recent years, Pat decided to change his ways and now farms under the principles of conservation tillage, and although it is early days, Pat feels positive and hopeful about the change. Soil biology and health is at the forefront of the farming system now. Pat is building soil organic matter by spreading mushroom compost and slurry on the land. Cover crops have been incorporated into the cropping rotation which is helping to naturally regenerate the soil and add fertility, as well as providing food for pollinating insects and birds. Oilseed rape has been included into the crop rotation and the soil is no longer left bare at any point. Pat has been producing the crops via min-till system for 3 years now. All of these changes have helped Pat to reduce the amount of artificial fertiliser required on the farm. There are pockets of woodland around the land and Pat has noticed the return of significant bird and insect life to the farm in recent years. Pat is proud to manage a productive farm all the while protecting soil health and increasing biodiversity on the land – "My interest in nature comes from my mother, who instilled in me a great love and respect for nature and animals."
Pat is an arable farmer from Cahir, Co Tipperary. I have had the pleasure in meeting and getting to know Pat through Base Ireland from various meetings and trips. He has raised and educated his children through his family farm. He continues to educate himself through various courses run throughout Ireland on the subjects of regenerative/conservation agriculture principles. He puts his soil at the forefront of his operation, is passionate about his soil health. A recent retiree from his farm shop where his family sold a range of vegetables. Pat was also instrumental in the setting up of Cahir farmers market. I believe that pats years of experience, wealth of knowledge and his adoption of systems, innovation, and observations will resonate with both younger and older generations. Pats pleasant persona, his honesty and openness will make him a suitable farming for nature ambassador.
Nominator: Norman Dunne, FFN Ambassador