Martin Crowe is the first dairy farmer to feature on the Footprint Farmers page.

The Limerick man farms in Carrigmore, near Doon.

While Martin is keen to maintain and improve profits, he also wants to increase biodiversity and improve habitats on farm, keeping an eye on water quality and increasing carbon sequestration.

He is milking 200 cows on a milking platform of 80ha and rearing replacement heifers.

In recent years, he streamlined the business and now allows young stock to leave the farm as soon as possible.

This year, across the entire farm (143ha) stocking rate was approximately 160kg N/ha.

Grass growth

Martin has an agricultural consultancy business off farm. Diarmuid Cummins, the farm manager, is a keen grass measurer, and the pair are focused on reducing nitrogen use on farm.

Martin Crowe is a member of the Footprint Farmers Programme. \ Claire Nash

Artificial nitrogen use has been at about 134kg N/ha across the farm for the past two years.

Clover is on the increase in swards through reseeding and stitching in and this autumn a multispecies sward containing plantain, chicory, timothy, perennial ryegrass and white clover was planted on 6ha.

They will see how this sward progresses before planting any more.

As nitrogen use decreases, clover should increase in the grass and clover swards and, this year, one 3ha paddock did not receive nitrogen, but performed on a par with the rest of the block.

Martin soil-samples regularly and the samples taken as part of the Footprint Farmers Programme last spring show that the soil is in generally good condition, with an average soil pH of 6.3 and average phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) indexes of 3.

The range in P is index 2 to 4 and K is 1 to 4, so the areas with low Ps and Ks will need attention.

Low K levels on some soils can be attributed to ground where silage is being produced and this is something to keep an eye on and try to build up. All land is low in boron, so this may be something to look into.


Walking across Martin’s farm, there are plenty of hedgerows and trees and he noted that it was the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) that developed his interest in increasing biodiversity.

The trees and hedgerows planted in that scheme five or six years ago are now flourishing.

An aerial view of the pond which Martin dug out during the summer beside some groves of trees.

As the location of his farm suggests, there is a large rock (“Carrigmore” translates to “Carraig Mór” in Irish, which means big rock).

This is a haven for biodiversity and, while he is minding the habitats he already has, he is also creating new ones.

This year, Martin undertook a huge project when he dug out a pond on his outfarm.

The pond is at the bottom of a steep hill where water gathers and in a field that is not suited to tractors and therefore fertiliser use.

The pond, seen in the picture at the top of the page, was dug out in the summer, not long before these pictures were taken and water was still beginning to settle.

Martin left one steep side on the pond and placed an outlet to a drain for times of heavy rainfall.

The pond will be left alone to fill naturally and will not be planted with anything.

Ponds are havens for biodiversity, growing wetland plants and attracting invertebrates, fish and animals.

Slurry storage

Another project undertaken this year was the construction of extra slurry and farmyard manure storage.

Slurry will be drawn from the home farm to the extra storage on the outfarm during the winter and will then be located nearby for spreading in spring.

The new slurry storage and farmyard manure storage on Martin's outfarm.

What next?

Things are busy on the farm at present. Roadways are being resurfaced to reduce lameness in cattle and, while the digger is on site, it will turn a sod for a new hedgerow.

Martin explained that as his children get older they are asking more questions.

While at home, farming during lockdown, he found himself explaining why certain things are done on the farm and how certain practices are carried out to help the environment.

Biodiversity and reducing the farm’s impact on the environment while reducing costs and improving profit are to the fore.

“I want to maintain my production, farm more efficiently, protect the environment while I’m doing it and improve the biodiversity of the farm,” he says.

Farm facts

  • Farmer: Martin Crowe.
  • Farm size: 143ha (owned and leased).
  • Enterprise: spring-calving dairy herd, rearing replacements.
  • Focus: maintaining and increasing profit, while reducing nitrogen use, protecting water quality and increasing biodiversity on farm.
  • Average soil sample results

  • Soil pH – 6.3.
  • Phosphorus index – 3.
  • Potassium index – 3.