Welcome to the July – August edition of the Farming for Nature Newsletter, containing news and upcoming events, helpful nature-friendly tips for your farm, and other useful resources – including words of wisdom from our inspiring farmers!

The countryside is alive with the sounds, smells, tastes and colours of summer.  Silage and hay season are in full tilt, spring calves and lambs are getting stronger on fresh grass and milk, and fields of corn are maturing nicely in spite of the relatively low temperatures.  The rich scent of elderflowers, meadowsweet and honeysuckle, the heavenly songs of skylarks and the frantic antics of swallows, damselflies and other winged wildlife can make even the shortest of summer strolls a pleasure.  Of course, this doesn’t happen everywhere, but with the right management our countryside is a treasure.  Our current series of farm walks are an ideal insight to these natural wonders and into the fantastic work which many farmers are doing for nature around the country.

The Farming for Nature initiative was established to help acknowledge and support those farmers who farm, or wish to farm, in a way that improves the natural health of our countryside. It was set up by people with a genuine interest in the wellbeing of our rural landscapes, many of whom work on a voluntary basis to build up this network and profile the good practices that are happening across the country. There are ways in which we can all get involved in this initiative, so please read on and see what you can do.

NEWS

The 2021 Farming for Nature Ambassador Awards

As outlined in our previous newsletter, we received 48 nominations for this year’s Farming for Nature Ambassador Awards.  The standard of 2021 nominees across the board is outstanding, but we managed to put together a shortlist of nominees who progressed to the next stage in the Ambassador Awards.  Over the past 6 weeks, our judging panel have been out and about visiting our shortlisted farms across the country in order to learn more about the incredible work they are doing to incorporate, protect and enhance nature on their land.  We have also sent a member of our own team out to meet our shortlisted nominee farmers which has further given us the opportunity to learn first-hand the various ways in which our farming community are working to increase biodiversity and support nature on their land.

Feedback from the farm visits so far has been extremely positive.  The diversity of this year’s nominee farms is wonderful and it has been very exciting to see our farmers support nature on their land with such a strong sense of innovation, passion and care.  From learning about indigenous microorganisms and their role in regenerating soil biology, to no-till cereal production.   From creating habitats for rare orchids and butterfly species to making animal bedding from rushes. From rewetting and rewilding to conservation grazing – we have covered a lot of ground and learned a tremendous deal from our farmers in the process. Hopefully you have been following our adventures on social media.

Once the farm visits are complete and every shortlisted nominee has had the opportunity to showcase their farm and elaborate further on their farming system(s) and practices for nature, we will then come together with the judging panel and collectively decide on this year’s list of Farming for Nature Ambassadors.   At this point we will also create a final shortlist for the 2021 Farming for Nature Public Awards which are set to take place in October.

We have continued to share stories far and wide across our social media platforms in an effort to inspire and encourage positive change amongst the farming community here in Ireland and beyond.  We would like to take this opportunity to again thank all of our wonderful nominee farmers for their support and for the admirable work they continue to do on their land to protect, enhance and support nature.

These Ambassador awards are sponsored by Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme.

Meet the 2021 Nominees here and the 2021 Judging panel here.

Fantastic Farm Walks lined up for the Summer

It’s been great to get out and about again on our farm walks around the country and the demand has been huge – people are clearly keen to visit and learn from the Farming for Nature Ambassadors.  We are still opening bookings on a phased basis so adding your name to a notification list is the best way to ensure a space – you’ll be informed once the bookings open.

These farm walks are an opportunity for our Ambassadors to showcase their contribution to nature and good farming practices on their land.  The walks cost €10 to attend in order to reduce the number of no-shows.  This is a not-for-profit initiative and all monies received will be circulated back into the farming community.

July

10th  11-1.30pm      Mervyn Auchmuty, Co.Roscommon        Book Now

11th   2-4.30pm       Mimi Crawford, Co.Tipperary                   Waiting List

17th   2-4.30pm       Mark Hurst, Co.Kildare                            Book Now

24th   2-4.30pm      Thomas & Claire O’Connor, Co.Kerry      Book Now

August

7th     2-4.30pm       Sinead Moran, Co.Mayo                         Waiting List

14th   11am-1.30pm John McHugh, Co.Laois                         Book Now

21st    2-4.30pm       Bridget Murphy, Co.Sligo                       Book Now

28th    2-4.30pm       Kate Egan, Co.Westmeath                    Book Now

September

4th     2-4.30pm         Ailbhe Gerrard, Co.Tipperary                Notification List

11th   2-4.30pm         Donna Mullen, Co.Meath                      Notification List

18th   2-4.30pm         Shackleton Family, Co.Cavan              Notification List

25th   2-4.30pm         Kate Egan, Co.Westmeath                   Notification List

October

2nd    11am-1.30pm  Olly Nolan, Co.Dublin                            Notification List

9th     2-4.30pm         Sinead Moran, Co.Mayo                       Notification List

Farming For Nature would like to thank the farmers for their generosity in hosting these farm walks. And thanks to DAFM and NPWS who support these walks.

Result-based payment schemes

There has been a lot of coverage in recent weeks about ‘result-based payment’ schemes, following the strong farmer interest in the new REAP scheme and also in the context of the new CAP. The Burren Programme, pioneers of the result-based approach in Ireland over a decade ago, have recently released some short films outlining how this works on the ground on Burren farms burrenprogramme.com/videos/
Another useful resource featuring a range of case studies and resources from across the EU is the European Result-Based Payment Network www.rbpnetwork.eu/

Farmer Q&A sessions are available to listen back to

Our ‘Ask the Farmer’ series ran throughout this Winter and Spring with 13 superb Ambassadors having an informal chat with us on-line about their farm and farming system and then an open floor session with the attendees. These proved hugely popular and a great way to listen to these eloquent spokespersons for nature. You can now listen to all of these either on our YouTube channel or by following this link to our website.

Join our FFN Forum

This is a forum for farmers to ask questions and share information around farming for nature.  It was set up to encourage and support farmers that wish to include nature more in their farming practices.   While it is primarily for farmers, we welcome users that are able to contribute from related fields.

Access Forum

Check out our farming podcasts

Farmers!  Here is a podcast by you, for you!  Listen to a wide range of farmers talk about how they farm with nature for a sustainable future.  New podcasts will be coming soon including our most recent monthly ambassadors and our Q&A sessions.  While there has been a delay due to Covid restrictions we hope to have new podcasts available soon.   Please rate, review and share these podcasts.

Podcast channel

Other News & Events

  • In association with Teagasc ConnectED, Dairy Sustainability Ireland, and Food Drinks Ireland Skillnet, the National Rural Network is currently hosting a series of online webinars called the Signpost Series – including Dr James Moran on the 2nd July and Bruce Thompson on the 9th July info and registration here.
  • Feeding Ourselves 2021 – ‘Practicing Food Sovereignty’, 1st and 2nd July. Info and registration here.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, are seeking proposals from the research community to help address climate change and other emerging and complex environmental problems. Up to €10.5 million is available for new research projects. More info here.
  • Farm Safety Week. 19 July 2021 – 23 July 2021. Ireland and the UK have joined forces for Farm Safety Week 2021, taking place from July 19th to 23rd. The theme this year is “Rethink Safety”. More info here.

Your Farm

A monthly calendar for noticing nature on your farm

We are developing a month-by-month guide to spotting different forms of nature on your farm and practical tips to help you encourage even more!  This is just a start, we need your help to develop this further – please send in your ideas and help us create a rich calendar for what is on the farm and practical notes on how to enhance it: info@farmingfornature.ie

Thanks to all the Ambassadors that fed into this work so far and to Mark Robins for collating it.  View the Wildlife Calendar’s here.

Best Practice Guidelines & Illustrations

We have created management guidelines which contain simple actions that you can do on your farm to enhance biodiversity.  They also include clear illustrations on good, moderate and poor management to help guide you.  We hope you find them useful!  View them on our website here.

About Us

Support our Ambassadors

The products and services listed below are a great opportunity for you to engage with, and meaningfully support our Farming For Nature Ambassadors. These are listed under various themes (Food Products, Education, Accommodation and Other) and ordered alphabetically by farmers’ names. Details on the products and services the Ambassadors offer here.

Share with us any comments, queries, stories or points of interest by emailing us on info@farmingfornature.ie