In fast-paced global markets carving out a unique selling point is critical to success. Without doubt, Irish ‘grass fed’ product stands out from the crowd and other competitors, given its unique production system within Europe.

These awards recognise and reward the exceptional performance being achieved by members of Bord Bia’s Sustainable and Quality Assurance schemes for all three sectors.

Farmers often question the reasoning behind these schemes but the reality is Quality Assurance schemes are pivotal to differentiating Irish food products in the global marketplace. Participating farms meet high standards regarding food safety, animal health, welfare and traceability. In recent years more food buyers and consumers are demanding more and more information on how products are produced. The Bord Bia Sustainable and Quality Assurance Schemes have and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of more demanding consumers.

Ireland is the first country to assess the environmental performance of farms on such a large scale under the Origin Green programme, a voluntary food and drink sustainability programme led by Bord Bia. The results represent a unique selling point for Irish food exports, proving that producers are operating with due care for the surrounding environment, resulting in a low carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is an assessment of greenhouse gas emmissions associated with the production of 1kg of output. Ireland has the lowest carbon footprint in Europe for dairy, while the carbon footprint of Irish beef has been shown to be the fifth lowest in the EU.

On the beef side of the competition, 12 finalists have been selected from over 45,000 cattle farms which are certified members of Bord Bia’s Beef Sustainability and Quality assurance scheme, based on their sustainability credentials. These farms are among the top performers surveyed with regard to carbon footprint, biodiversity and water quality. Each of these finalists is efficiently producing cattle suitable for our major markets. The finalists are spread between different geographic regions across Ireland representing different production systems and on-farm challenges. There are farms in each of the following systems;

  • Suckler to beef
  • Suckler to weanling/store
  • Weanling store to beef
  • Dairy calf to beef
  • The finalists were visited over recent weeks by the judges. All judges were highly impressed with the practices being adopted to raise efficiency and profitability. These include measures to improve daily liveweight gain, herd health and fertility, while controlling inputs such as concentrate feed and fertiliser. Each of the selected finalists is producing beef with 40% lower carbon footprint than the average producer.

    This is acheived as a result of a high level of techncial efficiency in all areas of their beef enterprises. Some of the common themes across all farms are as follows; aspirations to produce high quality forage, aiming for high livestock performance, aiming for high levels of grass growth, liveweight gain, animal health and carcase quality.

    On the dairy side of the awards, 15 finalists have been selected from the 16,000 dairy farms which are certified members of the Bord Bia’a Sustianable Dairy Quality Assurance Scheme. These farms are among the top performers surveyed with re d to carbon footprint, biodiversity, energy and water use. Each farmer has demonstrated a sustainble production system and represent 15 different co-ops all of whom have engaged with the process since the scheme started. Again the finalists were visited over recent weeks by judges.

    The Irish horticultural industry has an estimated annual farmgate value of €380 million. The most important market for fresh produce in Ireland is the retail market in particular the major retail multiples.

    The 12 shortlisted finalists for the horticulture producer awards were selected based on their performance against the Sustainable Horticulture Assurance Scheme which was launched in November 2017 and replaces the old quality assurance scheme for the sector. The finalists were divided into four categories of comparable crops and production systems before being independently assessed by an expert panel of judges from Teagasc, University College Dublin and I.T. Blanchardstown. The following categories were judged:

  • Mushrooms
  • Potato
  • Protected crops and fruit
  • Field Vegetables
  • The judges commended the finalists for their clear understanding of farm sustainability and their positive attitude on the back of what was a very difficult year for the sector. The finalist all placed importance on implementing strategies to promote safe working systems for staff, increasing farm system efficiencies, whilst protecting biodiversity and the environment on their farms through the use of modern technologies allied with well-established good agricultural practices.

    Only the Bord Bia Quality Mark means that food has been produced to the highest Bord Bia quality standards and you know where it comes from. This is because it is independently checked at every stage. So by looking at food for the Quality Mark when shopping, you can rest assured that it will look after you and your family.

    The winning producers will be announced at an awards ceremony on Wednesday 12th December, 2018. Profiles of these winners will be in the Irish Farmers Journal 15 December 2018.

    Suckler and beef

    Derek and Gareth Peoples, Co Donegal

    Derek and Garrett Peoples run a dairy calf-to-beef operation alongside tillage and some forestry on their 220ac farm just outside Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal. Derek had previously been purchasing Charolais x steers and finishing them but recently changed to Friesian x steers. The father-and-son team purchase calves in February/March from neighbouring farms and finish them between 22 and 26 months at an average carcase weight of 320kg. Cattle are slaughtered by processor Foyle Meats. Garrett operates a paddock grazing system to achieve maximum liveweight gain at grass for minimum cost. Particular attention is paid to rearing healthy calves, while keeping the system as simple as possible.

    David and Giles Auchmuty, Co Roscommon

    The Auchmuty family farm is located just outside Roscommon town and has beef, sheep and tillage enterprises on a 250ha holding. The farm finishes 650 cattle per annum, runs a flock of 500 ewes and grow 70ha of barley, wheat and oats, along with 15ha of beet, all of which is fed on farm. The farm’s long-term goals are to enhance facilities and systems to increase liveweight gain, faster throughput of stock through increased feed conversion and better animal health. 90.4 % of cattle graded R= or better with 72% of cattle slaughtered having a fat score between 3- and 4= while 88% of cattle slaughtered fell between 270kg and 380kg carcase weight and 95% of cattle slaughtered were less than 30 months.

    William Kelly, Co Sligo

    William Kelly and his family farm just outside Skreen, Co Sligo, The farm consists of 187 acres, 102 of which are leased on a long-term basis. The farm has 42 cows with everything brought to finish, along with a midseason lambing flock of 100 ewes.

    Cows calve in January and February and cow type is predominantly Limousin and Simmental x. These are then crossed with Limousin and Simmental AI bulls and a terminal Charolais. Top-quality bull weanlings are also bought in autumn to finish alongside the farm’s homebred stock. Bulls are finished around 420kg carcaseweight and heifers are finished off grass at 370kg carcaseweight. The farm is a participant in BDGP and was a previous participant in REPS.

    Alan Wood, Co Mayo

    Alan Wood and his wife Vivian, along with their two sons run a suckler-to-beef operation just outside Crossmolina, Co Mayo. He keeps 53 suckler cows, 12 of which are pedigree on his 54ha farm. Pedigree bulls are sold at 16 months, commercial bulls are sold under 16 months and heifers are finished off at 23 months. The farm has some impressive breeding stats. The herd has a calving interval of 374 days and achieved .93 calves/cow/year in 2017. . Alan uses 100% AI on his herd, meaning he can chose different bulls to suit different cows. Alan has recently completed a drainage project on an outfarm, which has meant earlier turnout and higher grass utilisation has been achieved.

    Richard Lynch, Co Louth

    Richard Lynch runs a dairy calf-to-beef operation just outside Ardee, Co Louth. Having previously run a suckler herd, Richard changed enterprise a few years ago due to his contracting business. The farm rears 120 dairy calves and brings them to finish as bull and heifer beef. Richard researched the system in England and pays particular attention to calf health. A new ventilation system was installed in 2018, which has improved calf health during the rearing phase. The tillage operation on the farm grows most of the cattle feed required. Calves are reared on a Lely automatic feeder and offered concentrates from an early age to maximise liveweight gain. Bulls are slaughtered at 300kg to 330kg carcaseweight after an intensive indoor feeding period.

    Joe O’Reilly, Co Louth

    Joe O’Reilly farms 105ha right on the coast of the Irish Sea at Togher, Co Louth. The herd consists of 120 suckler cows with further store heifers bought in for finishing on a 120 day diet. The herd comprises predominantly Limousin and Simmental suckler cows and these cows are crossed with Limousin bulls. Males are finished at 16 months, while heifers are finished at 18 to 20 months following an intensive finishing period indoors. In 2018, Joe invested in a state-of-the-art handling unit, which has a number of safety features and means animals are handled in a stress-free environment. Animals are grazed in a paddock system at grass to maximise grass utilisation and liveweight gain.

    Paul O’Brien, Co Cork

    Paul O’Brien operates an under 16 month Friesian bull dairy calf-to-beef system alongside a tillage enterprise and a 120-head ewe flock Sallypark, Liscarroll, Mallow, Co Cork. The dairy-beef system has grown to 110 Friesian bulls in the last three years. A standout feature is the carcase weights achieved with 2017-born bulls slaughtered this year achieving an average carcase weight of 290kg. Calves are sourced from one farm with the 110 calves on farm and settled in the space of nine to 10 days, which streamlines management and health treatments. Calves are reared on an automatic feeder. Early calves give scope to achieve a long grazing season. The finishing diet is kept simple and utilises homegrown barley (maximon treated), maize, silage and straw.

    Seamus O’Toole, Co Carlow

    Seamus O’Toole’s bull beef finishing system dovetails nicely with the farm’s 85ha tillage enterprise in Rathbawn, Tullow, Co Carlow. Feeding and daily management is highly impressive with Seamus or his father Donal able to feed up to 240 bulls in two hours. Continental bulls are purchased at an average weight of 400kg to 420kg at nine months to one year old and finished at 18 to 20 months at a carcase weight of 400kg to 430kg with about 300 head finished in a calendar year. Daily weight gain is 1.2kg to 1.3kg through the transition period from arriving on farm to being switched onto an intensive finishing diet four to six weeks later. Average performance during the 120 days finishing phase is top-notch at 1.7kg per day

    Clive Buttimer, Co Cork

    Clive Buttimer’s beef enterprise in Ahaliskey, Ballinascarthy, Clonakilty, Co Cork, has focused on finishing Angus cross steers and heifers in recent years. The Buttimers purchase a mix of longer-keep stores, and forward stores suitable for a short-keep finishing period. Animals are purchased above 400kg to achieve a carcase grade of O=/+ and better. Heifers are drafted after 65 to 70 days, with steers fed for longer. A health programme including vaccination for IBR, treatment for worms, fluke, lice and regular footbathing for lameness is in place while help from father Victor, careful feed management and quality home grown maize silage, grass silage, barley, wheat and beet are the final ingredients for top performance.

    Nicholas Bergin, Co Tipperary

    Nicholas Bergin is producing autumn-born weanlings to a demanding specification for live export to Greece in Coolnagh, Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Being a breeding enthusiast and working off-farm for an AI company is a pretty good starting point. Cow-type on the farm is a three-quarter bred Limousin bred to a Belgian Blue AI sire. Weanling bulls in the autumn-calving herd are marketed at 380kg to 400kg with a sale value of €1,100 to €1,200. Having experimented with dairy-beef, Nicholas says output is not adequate to cover input costs and is increasing from 60 suckler cows to calving 80 cows in 2018.

    Sean Cooney, Co Wicklow

    Having exited sheep production a few years ago to focus on growing demand as a scanning contractor, Sean Cooney – who farms at Ballinaloola, Glenealy, Co Wicklow, has been busy growing his suckler herd from 20 to 50 cows calving down in 2019. The farming enterprise is set up to fit together with the busier sheep scanning season with calving split between autumn and late spring. Organic fertilisers are targeted at soils deficit in phosphorus and potassium, while a lime programme that saw 100t of lime spread recently. Cows are mainly bred from the dairy herd with weanling bulls currently sold at eight to 10 months of age but possible will be finished on farm in the future.

    Noel Farrell, Golden, Co Tipperary

    Noel Farrell and his wife Joan run an 85-cow suckler-to-beef herd alongside a herd of milking goats in Rathgallen, Golden, Cashew, Co Tipperary. Bulls are finished in an under-16-month system with close attention to market requirements and drafting bulls as they approach 400kg carcaseweight while heifers not retained as replacements are finished at 22 to 24 months of age. Breeding in the suckler herd is based mainly on Simmental genetics with a small number of Aubrac cross cows also kept. Noel says that milk yield in cows is a key component with a lot of emphasis placed on selecting proven breeding lines. There is a firm focus on making high quality silage which normally ranges from 70 DMD to 75 DMD to reduce winter feed costs.


    Shane and Timothy McCarthy, Co Cork

    The father-and-son team are very much focused on breeding top-quality high EBI cows. They are milking 132 cows in Dromusta West, Drimoleague, Co Cork. Since Shane has completed agricultural college and is at home full-time now, the plan is to increase numbers to 140 milking next year. They have a 67ha grazing platform of good dry land. The predominantly Holstein and Norwegian Red herd with an EBI of 116 produced an average of 520kg milk solids per cow this year and the long-term aim is to sell 600kg milk solids per cow with 1t of concentrates and grass.

    One-third of the farm is soil tested annually and grass is measured regularly during the grazing season. Approximately 10% of the farm is reseeded annually.

    Shane and Dermot O’Loughlin Co Kildare

    Shane O’Loughlin started farming with his father Dermot full-time in 2005 after spending some time travelling and working on farms in the Canada, US and New Zealand. They currently have 190 spring-calving cows and 50 autumn-calvers on their farm in Oghill, Monasterevin, Co Kildare. There is 64ha in the grazing platform and a further 86ha of outblocks. He is a council member of Glanbia and also participates in the Fresh Milk Producers group (FMP). Herd health is monitored closely and prevention of common diseases is covered with a broad vaccination protocol as well as biosecurity measures. He is always looking to simplify his system to make the farm as labour-efficient as possible.

    David Hall, Co Monaghan

    David Hall has a sustainable farming business in place. Using a robot to milk his 80 crossbred cows, he also has time to do part time off-farm work. He owns 44.5ha and rents a further 12ha. David’s cows are in the top 1% in LacPatrick for bought fat and protein production. Optimising grass and silage production is important on this farm. David has reseeded the entire grazing platform over the past five years and he has a clear plan for soil fertility based on soil tests taken this year. Using technology, he has reduced antibiotic usage by 50% in his milking cows. In the past he participated in REPS 4, planting a lot of hedgerows on the farm as a result. Watercourses have also been fenced from livestock to prevent pollution.

    Pat and Audrey Dennehy, Co Cork

    Pat is farming outside the village of Kilbrin, near Kanturk in north Cork. Pat milks 140 cows once a day, along with keeping 26 in-calf heifers, 23 calves and five bulls on his 275ac farm. He has 235 acres available to him around the milking platform and there are 40 acres in an outside block.

    A new 16-unit milking parlour was built in 2011 and a new cubicle shed was built around then also. Pat currently has 174 cubicles on the farm. Once-a-day milking and an automatic calf feeder are used to reduce the workload on the farm.

    Peter Murphy, Co Cork

    Peter is milking 40 cows on a 44.6ha farm at Boherbue in north Cork. He owns 24.6ha and is renting the rest. Peter is planning to milk 45 cows next year. The dry summer and autumn was a dream for Peter as the land around Boherbue is heavy. When the judges visited in early November, Peter was still out grazing, which is a real bonus as he reckons he saved a month of silage.

    Facilities and hygiene on the Murphy farm are excellent. All animals are housed in the one yard and everything has it’s place, with all sheds power washed and ready for the winter. Peter’s cows are a mix of Holstein Friesian and Jersey crossbred.

    Niall, John and Carol Mason, Co Kerry

    Niall Mason is in a farming partnership with his parents John and Carol since 2016. They milk 80 cows annually with 12 autumn-calvers suppling a liquid milk contract in Ballinduganig, Ballyseedy, Tralee, Co Kerry. There is a 29ha milking platform plus two outside blocks used for silage and young stock. Herd EBI is €116 and the maiden heifers are €115. Just three cows out of 80 were empty after 14 weeks’ breeding. Selective dry cow therapy will be used this year based on milk recording results in an effort to reduce antibiotic usage. A soil test was carried out in January 2017 and low-index/low pH paddocks are targeted for improving since with compounds and lime.

    Edwin Thompson, Co Tipperary

    Edwin Thompson is milking 142 pedigree Holstein cows on a 50ha grazing platform in Golden, Cashel, Co Tipperary. He owns a further 30ha also.

    Hygiene is a big part of Edwin’s milking routine. He milks from a 20-unit parlour with automatic cluster removers and a cluster flushing system. The parlour and collecting yard are kept spotless throughout the year. Tree lines have been planted in the past under REPS, which adds to the character of the farm and is a valuable source of biodiversity.

    The herd is set to produce 500kg of milk solids this year and all replacements are bred from high EBI sires. Calf health is taken seriously and calves are let out to graze the sheltered paddocks from three weeks of age.

    Trevor Crowley, Co Cork

    The Crowley farm, Hornhill, Lissarda, Co Cork, is very much family-orientated. The family milks 136 cows on a 72ha grazing platform. The Crowleys reseed 6% of their farm annually and soil pH is monitored closely. An aeration system is used in the slurry storage tanks so that slurry is always ready to spread when an opportunity arises in the open period and a trailing shoe is used to spread the slurry to minimise nitrogen loss. Biodiversity is taken seriously on this dairy farm.

    Over the years, new hedges have been planted, existing hedges have been coppiced and watercourses have been fenced off to prevent pollution. A large, man-made pond and island developed by Trevor’s father is an alternative water source in times of drought.

    Pat and Mairead McLoughlin, Co Offaly

    Mairead McLoughlin and her husband Pat are new entrants to farming, not to mention dairying. They took over the management of the farm from Mairead’s father Michael Gleeson in 2014. The McLoughlins milk 56 cows in Thomastown, Rath, Birr, Co Offaly, with plans of increasing to 66 cows on an 18ha milking platform, with a further 5ha available to graze 400m up the road. They run dairy replacements and a small dairy-to-beef enterprise on a leased outblock. They are great believers in technology and use Moo Monitors for heat detection. Approximately 85% of cows calve in the first six weeks and all cows are bred via AI. Grass is measured weekly and grazing decisions are based on the results of the walk. The farmyard is kept immaculately clean and tidy.

    Michael McMahon, Co Clare

    Michael McMahon is farming on a heavy farm at Kilcarroll, Kilrush, Co Clare. His herd of 80 spring-calving cows produced 416kg of milk solids per cow on the 35ha milking platform. There is a further 22ha of outblocks used for silage and heifer rearing. He started crossbreeding because he wanted a smaller cow to suit the heavy ground and also be capable of walking long distances. He carries out the AI himself and uses Kiwi crosses and Jersey sires with good figures for milk solids and fertility. Cows start calving from 10 February and they are on-off grazing as soon as conditions allow to maximise grazed grass intake. Approximately 80% to 90% of cows calve in the first six weeks. He gets some outside help and tries to use contractors where possible.

    Michael Gunn, Co Roscommon

    The Gunn family are exceptionally progressive dairy farmers in Carrowclogher, Strokestown, Co Roscommon. At the beginning of his farming career, Kevin Gunn was milking three cows and he also had drystock enterprises on 36 acres (14.5ha) which was fragmented. Today, the family are milking 180 pedigree Holstein Friesian cows and own 266 acres (108ha) with a 98ha grazing platform. Michael, his wife Miriam and his parents Kevin and Eileen now run the farm. Approximately 75% of the herd are spring-calving. A heat recovery system is used to heat hot water and a plate cooler is also in place to reduce electricity costs. Plate cooler water is recycled and used for washing the parlour. All slurry is spread using a dribble bar.

    Paul and Michael Dullea, Co Cork

    Michael Dullea and his son Paul are farming at Ahaguilla, Clonaklity, Co Cork. This father and son team work very well together. After a period of working off farm Paul is now at home farming full time so plans are in place for development of the farm business further. The milking process is efficient and the herd are spring calving so efficient utilisation of grass is key for this farm. This year the farm milked 95 cows delivering over 500,000 litres to Lisavaird Co-op. Average fat percentage was 3.73% and average protein was 3.28% with TBC at 8 and average somatic cell count at 147,000 cells/ml.

    Noel O’Donovan, Co Cork

    Noel is farming outside the town of Clonakilty at Ballymacwilliam in West Cork. Typical of the region Noel is farming 35 hectares split into a number of farmswitha 17 ha platform available for grazing. Noel milks 60 cows and is supplying Barryroe Co-op with 700kg of milk solids produced per cow in an all year round supply pattern. Attention to detail on every aspect of farming is one issue that screams out when you visit this farm. The farm is spotlessly clean and the Pedigree cows are looked after very well. Milk recording is used every month which is a great tool to manage somatic cell count (SCC).

    Vanessa Kiely O’Connor, Co Cork

    Vanessa O’Connor along with her husband David milked 40 cows near Innishannon, Co Cork in 2018. The farmyard is getting an upgrade this year with a new cubicle shed and a new roof on the parlour so new meal feeders can be fitted into the parlour. The plan is to calve down 55 cows in 2019. The decision was taken in 2018 not to carry as many cows and it worked out well given the drought and subsequent feed shortage. Vanessa has focussed on improving the quality of the herd and average EBI has moved from €39 in 2015 to €104 in 2018. Stocking rate is 2.8 LU/ha with 23 hectares farmed. Grass grown this year was 11.5 tonnes/ha which Vanessa is very happy with given the significant drought.

    Rena and John Maher, Co Tipperary

    The Mahers have been farming in Gortmore, Ballywilliam, Nenagh, Co Tipperary since 1950. John’s father bought the 62.5ha farm, which is a mix of good land and callows (20%).

    Despite the sometimes difficult terrain, John tries to make best use of the land. He says the soils are predominantly heavy clay and can be hard to manage. He milks 76 British Friesian cows, keeps his own replacements and sells surplus heifers usually as maidens at 1.5 years. John puts a big emphasis on herd health and vaccinates cows for salmonella, BVD and rotavirus. The herd is milk recorded and culling is based on these results. During calving, he makes use of local labour and his son Damien helps out at weekends.



    Reilly Mushrooms, Co Westmeath

    Reilly Mushrooms, Walderstown, Athlone, is a family business, established by Gerard (pictured) and Mary Reilly with their two sons. The business employs more than 50 people. The farm produces approximately 50,000kg of high-quality mushrooms per week.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • The use of renewable fuel and solar panels for electricity production.
  • Use of lean management techniques to drive efficiencies on farm.
  • Reviewing options for alternative packaging and market diversification.
  • High level of health and safety on farm with close attention to staff welfare.
  • €200k invested in a a centralised piped steam sterilisation system eliminating the need for any disinfectant use.
  • Clune Mushrooms, Co Tipperary

    Clune Mushrooms, Clounoulty, Co Tipperary, was established in 1999 by Philip and Andrew Fryday. The farm employs 20 people producing high-quality brown mushrooms. Clune Mushrooms made a decision this year to upgrade its facilities to accommodate bulk phase three substrate on shelves. The first crops from this new system of production were picked in November 2018.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Capital investment to accommodate bulk phase three substrate production systems.
  • Close attention to staff welfare and engagement to ensure the business has a stable workforce.
  • Adherence to good hygiene practices and use of Integrated pest management techniques.
  • Field vegetables

    Eamonn Murphy, Co Dublin

    Eamonn Murphy in Co Dublin produces a number of cabbage varieties across 90 acres. The farm employs four permanent staff and one part-time. Planting starts in March and continues through to October allowing for year-round harvesting. Cabbage is grown in a 1:3 rotation with cereals with advice taken from agronomist on soil and nutrient management based on soil analysis.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Buffer zones are implemented to protect biodiversity and environmental features.
  • Integrated pest management includes use of pest monitoring techniques to determine appropriate intervention timing.
  • Crop nets used to protect plants from pest attack reducing levels of plant protection used.
  • Leo Murphy, Co Dublin

    Leo Murphy Produce Ltd in Co Dublin, employs 10 permanent and 10 seasonal staff growing 90 acres of cabbage and 80 acres of broccoli in rotation with cereals. Leo carries out trials on new varieties to assess performance and yields to determine future planting plans. On-farm investment to improve efficiencies included installation of modern packing machine.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Annual soil sampling and nutrient management planning resulting in specified blended fertilisers.
  • Use of precision GPS guided equipment .
  • Appropriate intervention timing based on monitoring pest thresholds.
  • Soil management practices to safeguard soil health.
  • John B Dockrell, Pictured: Paul Doran and Jackie Tighe

    John B Dockrell is a grower of carrots and lettuce with the company supplying its own carrots for 40 weeks of the year. The farm employs 31 permanent and 36 seasonal staff. Key sustainability measures:

  • Soil compaction minimised through use tracked machinery.
  • Walking floor trailers used to reduce breakage of carrots.
  • Regular soil and plant tissue analysis carried out to maximise nutrient management.
  • All field operations are carried out using GPS-guided equipment.
  • Five acres of reed beds installed to filter and clean water from carrot washing.
  • Irrigation water for lettuce is treated using UV, and is controlled recorded and monitored using an app.
  • Hilltown Growers Ltd, Co Dublin

    Hilltown Growers Ltd is owned and managed by the Gormley brothers in Garristown, Co Dublin. The farm employs 14 people and is involved in direct sales and packing producing 160 acres of swedes, 10 acres brussel sprouts, and 32 acres of broccoli. A 1:7 rotation for brassicas is operated; with cereals and land exchange.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Regular soil and leaf tissue analysis completed.
  • Crop nets used to reduce levels of plant protection products used.
  • Field operations are carried out using GPS-guided equipment.
  • Four acres of the farm are left uncropped and large headland areas left to encourage biodiversity.
  • Potatoes

    John Rodgers, Co Dublin

    John, David and Joe Rodgers based in Co Dublin grow Rooster, Queens, Kerr’s Pink and onions across 100ha. The farm supports seven full-time and two part-time jobs. This year, the Rodgers invested in irrigation equipment during the summer.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Native hawthorn hedging planted and areas left uncultivated for wildlife.
  • Nutrient management practices includes regular soil sampling and organic amendment to soil
  • Precision use of inputs includes GPS guided sprayer equipment.
  • Kilmore Potatoes Ltd, Co Wexford

    Kilmore Potatoes Ltd in Wexford, owned by brothers John and Chris Fortune, grows a range of varieties for a number of market segments. Kilmore Potatoes provide jobs to eight full-time staff and seasonal workers as required during the season. John is an advocate of changing energy supplier to get the best deals and reduce costs.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Biodiversity measures includes 30 acres of uncropped lands across the farm.
  • Nutrient management practices includes regular soil analysis
  • Use of precision GPS guided equipment.
  • Diversification of varieties grown to access new markets.
  • Martin Kehoe, Co Carlow

    Martin Kehoe in Co. Carlow selects potato varieties grown based on performance and market demands. GPS technology is used to control costs through accurate input applications. Energy usage on farm is monitored and efforts made to reduce usage and waste where possible, for example storage sheds are insulated and closely monitored in order to minimise the potential for losses of chilled air.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Farm biodiversity includes undisturbed riparian ecosystem, and areas left uncultivated.
  • Use of GPS equipment for precision application of inputs
  • Reviewing past performance.
  • Protected crops and fruit

    Danescastle Farm, Co Wexford

    Danescastle Soft Fruit Farm, Co Wexford, owned by John and Margaret Mernagh, produces high-quality strawberry and raspberry crops using both heated and unheated growing infrastructure. At the height of the season, there are 26 employees on site. The Mernaghs engage with scientific research to help steer decisions on infrastructure and production methods changes.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Plant selection based on customer needs and improving picker returns.
  • Investment in staff welfare and engagement to ensure a stable workforce with low turnover.
  • Recycling of fertigation water and rainwater harvesting.
  • CO2 is extracted from boiler exhaust to feed plants.
  • Lispopple Apples, Co Dublin

    Lispopple Apples, Swords, Co Dublin, managed by Denise Buckley, produces courgettes, pumpkins and plums, as well as apples. The farm supports approximately 20 jobs during harvest season.

    Key sustainability measures:

  • Uses rotation strategy and biodegradable plastics.
  • Nutrient management planning.
  • Fertiliser application techniques selected to increase efficiency and reduce wastage.
  • Integrated pest management
  • Biodiversity measures - addition of bat boxes, bee hives, wildlife areas and use of wild plant floor in orchard to support pollinators and improve yields.
  • Supports local clubs.
  • Flynns Tomatoes, Co Dublin

    Flynns Tomatoes, Swords, Co Dublin, managed by Martin Flynn, is a modern and very efficient farm. Employing 10 to 12 full-time staff, the workforce expands to 25 during harvest. Key sustainability measures:

  • Customer and supplier relationship development.
  • Water management includes rainwater harvesting and recirculation of fertigation water.
  • Waste management planning includes reduced crop wastage through late season management of plant ripening.
  • Use of high-efficiency boilers and extraction of CO2 from boiler exhaust used to feed plants.
  • Imbedded Integrated pest management includes environmental controls and use of advanced spraying technology.