4 Irish farmers are among 14 finalists in the first edition of the SIMA Farming Awards, which aims to “highlight and reward the most innovative agricultural practices”.
Ailbhe Gerrard, Nick Cotter, Ray Ó Foghlú and Bruce Thompson will fly the Irish flag on the international stage against farmers from countries including France, The Netherlands and Romania.
As the 100th edition of SIMA approaches, the show is shaping up to have farmers at centre stage “more than ever before” and continue to act as a launchpad for business and career opportunities.
According to a spokesperson, Irish finalists come from across the country, from different ages, genders, and backgrounds “in a reflection of the wealth that different voices can bring to agricultural progress”.
Each will now go through interviews to impress upon the judges their commitment to sustainability and to demonstrate the societal, economic, and environmental impact of their innovations.
Organisers will announce the winners at an award ceremony on November 6th, 2022, and candidates will be promoted throughout SIMA 2022.
Ailbhe Gerrard, Co Tipperary:
An educator with an interest in farming as a creative and collaborative activity, she has a range of broadleaf plantations, multi-species livestock, honey-producing beehives and even experimental crops.
She works with farming communities and independent farmers, artists, and scientists to promote the importance of crop diversification and “fairer, stronger” agriculture.
Nick Cotter, Co Limerick:
21-year-old Nick is co-founder of three companies, one of which specialises in sheep farming.
Alongside his brother, he raises lambs that are 100% grass-fed on their own pastures without any fertilisers or pesticides, earning them a reputation as high-quality suppliers with local restaurants and chefs.
His latest success is the launch of a software programme which tracks individual animals’ needs to facilitate targeted treatments.
Ray Ó Foghlú:
Despite not coming from a rural background, Ray decided to “give it a go” and is today a Nuffield Fellow for his research on integrating trees into the farm environment.
He works closely with farming communities and now owns a small enterprise of his own whilst working with twelve other farms on the Farm-Foresty Project.
This project aims to preserve the environment, connect farmers and improve the quality of life of herds.
Bruce Thompson, Co Laois:
Bruce is the 8th-generation to work on his family’s land. Following the abolition of milk quotas, his herd grew from 54 to 300 cows, all the while maintaining sustainable agricultural practices.
Cows graze on 150ha of land, and the farm uses new antibiotic-free breeding methods with software recommending the right treatments.
We previously spoke to the 300-cow dairy farmer about recovering from a herd TB breakdown, calving heifers at 24-months and his passion for dung beetles. Read more in this dairy farming focus news article.
Celebrating a century
This year, SIMA will cast a light on the new challenges and issues of the farming world and host 1800 exhibitors with some solutions and innovations farmers need to “rise to these”.
As well as the SIMA Farming Awards, which support a sustainable future in farming, the show will also continue to host the SIMA Innovation Awards.
The international exhibition of solutions and technologies for high-performance and sustainable agriculture will open its doors from November 6th-10th, 2022 at Paris Nord Villepinte.