Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2020 continues throughout this week highlighting all aspects of hedgerow management. As part of this year’s hedgerow week, the joint winners of the Teagasc Hedge Cutting Competition for 2019 have been announced. They are Liam Herlihy, Kingsland, Bruree, Co Limerick and Tony Mullins, Ballybeg, Mitchelstown, County Cork.
Hedge cutting contractor Liam Herlihy, Kingsland, Bruree, County Limerick changed his hedge cutting practice last year. For the sake of the birds and the environment, he changed from cutting the hedges as a flat top to an ‘A roof’, resulting in better and thicker hedges. Liam said: “It is actually easier and faster to cut the hedge as a slope because you can run your machine at 45 degree angle on both sides and move on. When you’re cutting hedges flat-topped, you have to cut them and go over them two or three times to get them nice and level”.
Francis Quigley Teagasc Machinery Specialist said: “Farmers and contractors need to communicate with each other in order to change the perception of what is a well-kept hedge”. Liam Herlihy agrees saying, “As a contractor I hope the farmer and ourselves can communicate better. Most years we come in and there’s nothing said and we cut the hedge as the hedge has always been cut. Going forward, hopefully farmers will make a change and we’ll talk and communicate better. That way we can get stronger hedges, thicker hedges and better for the environment”.
The other joint winner is dairy farmer Tony Mullins, Ballybeg, Mitchelstown, County Cork who cuts his own hedges. Farming with his wife Noelle, they avail of the Nitrates Derogation and rear all calves to beef and dairy replacements. Tony likes hedges on the farm and has always had a keen interest in managing his own hedges. The Mullins family regard hedges as a great source of shelter for animals and for the birds, as well as a food source and nesting habitat for birds and small mammals that live in the hedges.
Tony said: “Our hedges are like our shop window- to have our farm aesthetically pleasing is important, and the consumer is looking for biodiversity and sustainability”.
Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist, sai: “Advice on hedge cutting depends on the hedge type. Firstly, any escaped hedges which grow up into a line of trees – we advise to side trim only and not to top. Secondly for any hedges that have been topped, we advise to let them grow up to a height of 1.5 metres, or up to the height the hedge cutter can reach. And also we advise to leave a number of thorn saplings in each hedge to grow to a thorn tree.”
Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2020 is running all week with different themes on each day. The focus today is on best practice for hedge cutting. The focus tomorrow, Friday, 11 December will be on growing new native hedges. Finally on Saturday, 12 December we feature best practice in hedge rejuvenation techniques of hedge laying and coppicing in association with the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland.
Follow Teagasc Hedgerow week on the Teagasc website at https://www.teagasc.ie/environment/biodiversity–countryside/farmland-habitats/hedgerows/ and on Teagasc social media channels YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.