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Cork dairy farmer named Grassland Farmer of the Year 2020

Caroline Walsh, Ballinascarthy, Co. Cork, has been announced as the Overall Winner of the Grassland Farmer of the Year 2020.

Caroline farms with her husband, Joe, and five children, milking approximately 70 cows on a 20ha milking platform. She began measuring grass in 2015, and last year, her farm grew 14.2 T DM/ha (drought in June).

In 2020, the herd delivered 500 kg MS per cow from a concentrate input of 850kgs. She is reducing cow numbers slightly and will be stocked at 3.2 LU/ha in 2021.

Grassland Farmer of the Year 2020 

She was among the winners announced as part of an online awards ceremony this afternoon (Tuesday, January 19th, 2021).

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D, said: “As finalists, you are joining a group of top-class grassland farmers, and I would particularly like to congratulate Caroline Walsh on winning the overall Grassland Farmer of the Year Award.”

“It’s an achievement you can be really proud of. It is clear that initiatives such as Grass10 and the Grassland Farmer of the Year are to the fore in helping farmers achieve the most they can from the natural resource they have on their farm, which is grass. Good grassland management is essential in meeting the targets set down in the AgClimatise Strategy.”

Grassland merit awards:
  • Most Improved Grassland – Noel Hurley, Kildorrery, Co. Cork
  • Most Improved Grassland – David Brady, Stradone, Co. Cavan
  • Sustainable Grassland – JP Hammersley, Lattin, Co. Tipperary
  • Overall Winner of the Grassland Farmer of the Year 2020 – Caroline Walsh, Ballinascarthy, Co. Cork
Enterprise category winners:
  • Sheep Category – Peter McGuinness, Trim, Co. Meath
  • Dairy Category – Caroline Walsh, Ballinascarthy, Co. Cork
  • Beef Production (non-suckling) Category– Pat Collins, Castlemartyr, Co. Cork
  • Suckler Beef Production Category– Thomas Hogan, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary
  • About the Awards

Category winners:

  • Young Farmer Category – David O’Leary, Castleisland, Co. Kerry
  • Heavy Soils/Disadvantaged Land Category – Sean Barry, Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick
  • Sustainable Farming Category – John Galvin, Dunmanway, Co. Cork

Judges included John Maher, Teagasc Grass10; Liz Hyland DAFM, Bryan Doocey, AIB; P J O’Connor, Grassland Agro; Aidan Brennan, journalist and Ciaran Roche FBD Insurance.

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Grass10 programme 

Padraig Walsh, dairy farmer, and chair of the Teagasc Grass10 stakeholder committee stated: “Grass10 is a very important project for the promotion of best practise in grassland management.”

“There are challenges ahead for all grassland farmers, inside and outside the farm gate, however, the farmers who have participated in the Grass 10 grass groups have improved their grassland management decision making.”

“Increasing grass utilisation is one of the most important improvements that can be made across all enterprises. We need to continue the focus on grass utilisation, which will increase our own feed resources inside the farm gate.”

Phase II of programme 

Teagasc Chairman Liam Herlihy then stated: “Very well done to all the people who were finalists today. You are all exceptional farmers doing an excellent job and today is a day to acknowledge this.”

“I congratulate Caroline Walsh on being the overall Grassland Farmer of the year. In relation to the Grass 10 programme, I am delighted to announce that we are now moving on to Phase II.”

“The main focus in phase II is to challenge four main areas for the next four years. These areas are specifically; moving grassland knowledge out to the industry; continuing to increase the usage of Pasture Base Ireland; improving nutrient use efficiency on grassland farms and in 2021 and increasing the emphasis and adoption of white clover in grassland swards.”

Find out more about this year’s winners here.

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