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Home Beef VIDEO: Diversity the key to success on Kildare native's mixed farm
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VIDEO: Diversity the key to success on Kildare native’s mixed farm

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Trevor Harris run two farms, there is the home farm, 140-acres, which is cattle and sheep both organic and biodynamic certified.

He grazes the two together, selling his beef directly and the lamb is supplied to ICM. It is a mixed enterprise with 12-acres in forestry and 40-acres in cereal – he sells his oats to Flavahans and his barley to make a biodynamic whiskey.

The second farm is horticultural land, 14-acres outdoors and 1500sqm indoors, where he is growing vegetables for restaurants, a box scheme and retail.

Soil health

On both farms, the Kildare native is passionate about soil health which is to the fore in his approach to the management of his enterprise, the focus is to build resilience in the soil through diversity.

“I feel it is so important to build the fertility in the soil as where there is a good biome, the produce will taste better.”

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This involves getting the right mineral balance and physical soil structure to encourage soil biology to flourish.

Diversity of plants also encourages diversity in the insect and bird communities which helps keep everything in balance so that no one species will dominate and cause problems for the farm crops. Sunflowers, trefoils, alliums are planted along with the cereals to bring balance.

A mixed-species crop of barley, oats, peas, linseed, sunflowers is grown as a fertility builder, to provide a mixed animal ration and to encourage diversity in the wildlife.

Cattle and sheep are fed on a multi-species sward which contains fescue, timothy, ryegrasses, cocksfoot, clover, chicory, burnet, agri tonic, meadowgrass, sheep’s parsley, and yarrow.

Changes 

When Trevor took over the farm, he inherited a 100-acre field – he has replanted hedges to divide up this field and they look fantastic.  They contain many species including hawthorn, cherry, spindle, hazel, oak etc.  He has planted trees and hedges on the long approach to the house and yard. He has planted an oak woodland (3-acres). He has established a small orchard with a native meadow underneath.

He believes “one thing we can all do is just leave our hedgerows grow and flourish”. Trevor produces good yields without any chemical inputs.

Farming for Nature

Now in its third year, Farming For Nature was set up with an aim 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 family.

Nominations are sought annually from a broad panel of environmental experts and through a rigorous system of interviews, farm visits and assessments by a panel of judges, 16 of these farmers were selected as ambassadors in 2020.

Of these, 8 ambassadors have been chosen to represent a cross-section of the farming community during September and October.

They will be featured at the Burren Winterage Weekend at the end of October when the winner of the public vote will also be announced.

The Farming for Nature Awards are sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Rural Network.

Vote

The deadline for 2020 voting is midnight Friday, October 23rd, 2020 – To vote or to obtain any further information, click here.

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