The installation of 50kW of solar panels that are replacing 20% of our electricity requirements with 100% renewable energy.We have participated for many years in the Green Low carbon Agriculture Scheme (GLAS). Using the best ecological advise available we have invested in creating a series of habitats aimed specifically at halting the decline of some of our most vulnerable species.
Committed To The Environment
We have dedicated one of our fields beside the Delvin River to providing wild birds with food and cover during the ‘hungry patch’ during the winter months. Every year we sow it with a mix of linseed and barley which not only blooms into a lovely baby-blue during the summer when the tall stems of the mix provide valuable cover for ground nesting birds, it also provides an oil-rich food source when it ripens in the autumn. We don’t ever spray or even harvest the crop because it is planted only for the benefit of wild birds and whatever other wildlife that can utilise it. In doing so, we hope to help arrest the alarming fall in numbers of key farmland species such as the yellowhammer.
We also have dedicated another field to the preservation of old traditional grasses. This permanent meadow has not been ploughed, sprayed or fertilised in nearly 20 years, which allows less competitive plants such as fescue grasses and vetches to thrive. The increased biodiversity within the pasture is a key way of helping provide homes and food sources for many pollinator species that are also in decline around the world. We are obliged to keep this meadow grazed to maximise the suitability of the habitat for pollinators that evoked here over centuries with Ireland’s traditional pastoral farming. In our case, this means our two donkeys get to loll around this meadow having the time of their lives! Their only ‘job’ is to act as deterrents to predators when our turkeys or hens are grasing during the summer and autumn. Some creatures get all the cool gigs.
Creatures All Shapes & Sizes
We have also erected bird and bat boxes in our woodlands around the farmyard to maximise the nexting options for wildlife, along with providing bee hotels at various locations around the farm.
While we have honey bee hives on the farm, many people don’t realise that the honey bee only comprises one or two of the 90 different species of bees native to Ireland. Unfortunately many of these species are also under pressure for survival, so we have also created cordoned off sand-banks specifically as nesting sites for the solitary bee.
We also coppiced over 1km of hedge on the farm in an effort to rejuvenate it. Hedges are the motorways for Irish wildlife, and Ireland is blessed with a much higher density of hedgerow than the vast majority of countries in the world. As we become more aware of the pressures that the modern world and farming creates for nature, farmers are beginning to look at the natural features on their land with a new appreciation. While they still have a function to fence in stock and provide shelter, we now also realise that they are one of our most diverse habitats providing a wildlife network that covers the whole country.
We have invested heavily in the latest GPS technology on our machines to minimise the overlap of inputs, and are using controlled irrigation systems in our tunnels that significantly reduces the amount of water that we use from our well. Many of our inputs are getting greener too, with new forms of fertiliser that are less prone to leaching and volatilisation, and our packaging rapidly becoming 100% plastic free.
We also take our corporate responsibilities seriously. Every year we help raise over €10,000 through partnerships with Irish charities such as Irish Cancer Society and Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.