Stuart Rogers farms 150 acres in Co. Meath. Over the past number of years, he has been transitioning from a conventional tillage farm to a regenerative system that focuses on reducing harmful external inputs while increasing plant diversity on the land. The farm is guided by Biodynamic and biological principles. Stuart has taken a bottom-up approach on the farm, working first to regenerate the soil biome which then influences the biology above ground – “I am focusing on increasing the soil health which subsequently increases the plant health.”
About 130 acres of the farm is used to grow multi-species pasture and hay meadows, both consisting of a diverse range of grasses, legumes and herbs. From the pasture, Stuart produces a high-quality nutrient-dense forage, predominantly hay and haylage which is sold directly to his equine customer base. The remaining 20 acres of land is used to grow a small amount of oats and combi crops, also used for horse feed. The pasture for hay and haylage is grown without chemical sprays and artificial nitrogen. Frequent soil testing is carried out and Stuart spreads Biodynamic preparations on the land based on what nutrients and minerals are required by the soil at that given time.
Stuart values biodiversity and has enjoyed seeing the return of various flora and fauna species to the land since he has adopted this holistic, biological approach to farming. “The wildlife that was here on the farm when I was growing up - many of those creatures are now returning to the land once again.” A lot of the hay meadows are cut later in the year, meaning the various grasses and plants go to flower thus attracting lots of insects and other creatures to the land.
I think this farmer deserves national recognition for his work in farming for nature because: He has focused
on improving the health of his soil over the past 5 years. In order to improve the soil he has cut the use of toxic
pesticides, and cut the use of chemical fertilisers. The focus on the farm is diversity. It is a soil up approach.
Starting with the smallest creatures in the soil, fungi, bacteria, protozoa, up to larger creatures like beetles and
worms. Then moving above ground to pollinators and other insects. Which leads to birds and mammals. Stuart
tries to maintain an environment which nurtures these creatures. He feels if you start with what is beneath your
feet, it will have a knock on effect above ground. Itis notjust what Stuartis not doing. He also believes in
creating as much diversity on farms as possible. Stuart's main farm business is producing feed for the horse
industry. He produces haylage and oats. His hay meadows are planted with many different herbs and grasses.
These hay meadows are allowed to reach maturity and flower, which is both beneficial to insects and wildlife
and, unusual in modern farming. Stuart believes with this diversity in his sward allowed to reach maturity the
resulting feed will be more nutritious for the stock itis fed to, while also improving the health of the farm and the
diversity of nature on the farm. The health benefits of Stuarts haylage has been noted by his customers. He also
grows a mixture of species in his cereals with the same goal of farm health, animal health and natural diversity.
Stuart uses biodynamic preps to help improve the soil and plant health. He is not certified Demeter but feels the
use of preps will benefit the overall farm health. Stuart has just recently added a few animals to the farm.
I feel Stuart is a great candidate, he appreciates the natural world around him. He is trying to farm in a way that
improves the natural world, which is unusual in his industry.
Nominator: Trevor Harris, Farming For Nature Ambassador