Shane McAuliffe

Shane McAuliffe is a 3rd generation farmer from county Kerry. There are 7 farms in total in Kerry and Offaly. The primary operation is a commercial pig farm, but Shane also breeds Aubrac, Salers and Charolais cattle and there is 100 acres of tillage. Between all 7 farms there is a wide range of land types and habitats ranging from improved grassland to wet grassland, from native woodland to high nature value bogland. No chemical fertilizer is used on the land and Shane has worked hard to reduce the level of soya feed fed to the pigs by 20%.

Part of the farm consists of 100 acres of native woodland. A big advocate for incorporating more native trees on Irish farms, Shane plants approximately 1000 native trees on his land every year. Hedgerows are managed for biodiversity. Shane recently reseeded 14 acres with a multispecies sward mix. Riparian margins have been installed along water courses on the land. 5 wildlife ponds have been dug on the land over the past few years and Shane has taken immense joy in watching a tremendous number of birds and insects return to these wetland habitats. Bat boxes have been installed on trees along the watercourses and numerous bird boxes have been erected around the farms. Two wild bird cover strips are sown in Hen Harrier SPA fields to provide for farmland birds and birds of prey over the Autumn and Winter months.

A believer in the importance of community and education, Shane is actively involved in two of his local Tidy Towns groups, as well as various farming and biodiversity groups.

Shane McAuliffe is a commercial pig farmer from County Kerry. Also breeding pedigree Aubrac, Salers and Charolais cattle, there are 7 farms in total in Kerry and Offaly which consist of a variety of farm habitats ranging from pasture land to native woodland and from High Nature Value land to tillage. A corporate member of the Native Woodland Trust, Shane is the current custodian of one of the two last remaining Ancient Woodlands in the Castleisland area. Each winter he plants up to one thousand native trees and hedges in field corners & along farm roadways, believing every farm has space for more native trees. A keen advocate of wetlands, Shane has dug out numerous farm ponds of various sizes in recent years and one of his favourite farm habitats is a marsh which was recently opened up on one side to make a wader scrape. Using no chemical fertilisers thanks to the supply of natural manure, in 2021 Shane sowed 14 acres of Multi Species Sward & is looking forward to seeing how this develops. New fencing now allows for a wider field margin, riparian margins have been installed along water courses. Bat boxes have been installed on trees along the watercourses, bird boxes have also been erected including an owl nesting box in an old grain store. Two wild bird cover strips are sown in Hen Harrier SPA fields to provide for farmland birds and birds of prey over the Autumn and Winter months. In Spring 2022, a small number of native breed animals will be added to the SPA & SAC lands for conservational grazing. Shane was the first business supporter in Kerry of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan and make a major effort to provide for pollinators on farm such as exposed banks have provided nesting habitats for solitary bees & sowing native wildflower strips at farm entrances. He has a large ‘pollinator plot’ which is sown with an annual each year (mustard in 2020 and phacelia in 2021). Shane was chosen by Biodiversity Ireland in May 2021 as a Farmland Biodiversity ambassador where each day he posted a feature of farmland biodiversity on his popular social media channels. He believes farmers should play a role in supporting biodiversity in the community and volunteers with both Castleisland and Knocknagoshel Tidy Towns. He runs their social media accounts and in 2021 secured a Hen Harrier Project grant for a community biodiversity project in Knocknagoshel and is working on a water quality project in Castleisland as the local catchment is a priority area for the River Basin Management Plan. Shane grew up and lives in a historic listed house, believing old stone structures are not only important for their cultural heritage but also for wildlife; features protected on farm for bats, swifts and swallows include lime kilns, an ice house and apple store. The gardens are a haven for wildlife and Shane believes that the garden of a farmhouse can equally be an important habitat within a farm.
Nominator: James Lyons, Drystock Advisor, Teagasc

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