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HomeFarming NewsFarming with nature on 1,700ac whilst maintaining ‘acceptable’ profits
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Farming with nature on 1,700ac whilst maintaining ‘acceptable’ profits

Louis McAuley, a Meath tillage farmer, has joined Farming for Nature’s growing ambassador network.

In partnership with his family, he manages a farm spanning 1,700-acres – 1,400 of which they use for producing winter wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape, beans, and oats.

All the cereal grown on the farm goes to their feed mill, where they produce animal feed for cattle, sheep, and horses.

The farm’s remaining 300-acres is grassland, and the family runs a 200-strong dairy calf-to-beef system. Furthermore, they made bales from surplus grass to sell to local farmers.

Meath tillage farmer 

Up until six years ago, Louis’s farm would have been a conventional plough-based tillage system. At that point, the family noticed a decline in soil health and crop yields.

“The soil is one of our main assets on the farm. We wanted to introduce a system where we were improving our soil year on year, all the while producing crops.”

In 2015, they implemented a low disturbance direct drilling system, meaning the seeds are sown directly into mulch/stubble.

There is no ploughing or significant soil disturbance, protecting the soil biology and structure.

Also, they have included a 6/7-year crop rotation system and use multi-species cover crops on the land to further regenerate the soil.

The cover crops that are in the ground during the summer months produce a variety of flowers that attracts insects to the land.

Conservation agriculture

The farm is “perfect” for conversation agriculture, and, therefore, he implements the following practices to make the enterprise more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

  • Reduced tillage;
  • Cover crops and rotation;
  • Integrating livestock and using grassland in his rotation.

He has implemented several changes on the thriving Meath-based enterprise over the past seven years.

He is passionate about educating and encouraging farmers to adopt less-intensive tillage systems and is a founding member of BASE Ireland.

Farming for Nature

Now in its fourth year, FFN aims to “source, share and celebrate” the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature while providing a livelihood for their families.

This year’s FFN ambassadors come from across Ireland and include beef, sheep, forestry, dairy, horticulture, and tillage farmers.

These manage a wide range of “very valuable” habitats, including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands, and hedgerows. 

The FFN ambassador network consists of family farms, couples, and both male and female farmers.

FFN is featuring their ambassadors on a bi-monthly basis until August 2022. See their social media platforms to learn more about these farmers and the work they undertake for nature on their land. 

FFN will work with these inspiring ambassadors to produce farm videos, podcasts, ‘Ask the Farmer’ sessions, farm walks and more. 

Louis McAuley, its newest ambassador, said: “I’m delighted to be chosen as a Farming for Nature Ambassador.”

“I hope to be able to showcase our regenerative farming system and how we can combine soil, habitat and environmental best practice and still deliver safe, high quality and high yielding crops while maintaining acceptable farm profits.”

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