Farmers who are farming under a nitrates derogation have a number of requirements to meet. One of these requirements relates to biodiversity on farms and to hedgerows in particular.

The Irish Farmers Journal’s Tullamore Farm is in derogation and must follow these requirements. There are a mixture of hedgerows on the farm.

The rows of trees and escaped hedges, which are trimmed on the side, can be left alone. The remaining hedges need attention.

This year on Tullamore Farm, we decided to mark whitethorn trees in the hedges, which will be left by the hedgecutter and will be allowed to grow up so that the remainder of the hedge can be cut.

Farmers in derogation have three options when it comes to cutting hedgerows:

  • Leave a whitethorn or blackthorn tree to grow up every 300m and cut the remainder of the hedge on all three sides, if desired.
  • Maintain hedgerows on a three-year cycle, cutting only one side of the hedge each year.
  • Cut one-third of the hedges on the farm each year.
  • On Tullamore Farm, we have marked trees to be left every 50m in some places, while in others, we have left a wider gap. We may also leave some more trees next season and have some at different stages of growth.

    Leaving the trees provides a huge amount of flowers and food for pollinators and also allows the hedge to be maintained and kept away from the electric fence.

    It is good to have a mix of hedgerows on all farms and Tullamore Farm has a variety across the farm, providing different types of habitats for wildlife.