Farming for Nature (FFN) has added to its network of sustainanble farmers, as Donegal man Henry O'Donnell is the most recently recruited ambassador.

Henry O'Donnell manages a mixed organic farm in the uplands of north Donegal.

The 92ha farm is made up of different types of land including lowland pasture, marginal upland and commonage.

He runs a flock of 60 horned upland ewes in a low-input and low-cost system.

O'Donnell also runs a herd of suckler cattle, which are a mixture of continental breeds and Galloways, producing high-quality organic beef.

Low inputs

The Donegal farmer's inputs are extremely low on the farm and he has been experimenting with growing red clover swards for winter fodder, as well as multi-species swards for grazing on the lowlands.

The animals graze a mixture of diverse vegetation throughout the year as they move from the lowlands to the uplands.

Last year, Henry moved the Galloways uphill even further to graze the commonage land and said that they have done an excellent job, as they are non-selective grazers.

"They have removed a lot of millennia and dead grass, thus improving the biodiversity of the land.

"They have also improved the grazing for the sheep that are coming after them,” he said.

O'Donnell is passionate about the importance of grazing animals in maintaining marginal uplands through reducing fire risks, maintaining plant diversity and fertilising the land.

A strong advocate for low-impact, high-nature value farming systems, O'Donnell reflects this in the way in which he runs his own farm in the hills of Donegal.

Four-year anniversary

Now in its fourth year, FFN 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.

O'Donnell is part of this year’s 23 ambassadors that come from across Ireland and include beef, sheep, forestry, dairy, horticulture and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of very valuable habitats, including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows.

The FFN ambassador network is quite vast and is made up of family farms, couples and both male and female farmers.

Keep an eye on FFN’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms to learn more about these wonderful farmers and the valuable work they are doing for nature on their land.

FFN will work with these inspiring ambassadors to produce farm videos, podcasts, ‘ask the farmer’ sessions, farm walks and more.

The FFN awards are sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Department of Agriculture, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Rural Network.