Voting has opened in the Farming for Nature awards for 2020, with eight farmers chosen to share their stories of change and working with nature.

The entries range from organic to conventional farms across beef, sheep, tillage and mixed farming systems.

Below is a brief introduction of the eight farms. Votes can be cast here.

John McHugh, organic dairy farm, Co Laois

John McHugh runs a 230-acre organic dairy farm in Co Laois having moved away from conventional dairy farming in 2015.

His farm has adapted from a commodity and profit driven system of dairy farming to one that is focused on family succession, long term environmental goals, and connecting his community to nature.

The Shackleton family, organic beef and lamb farm, Co Cavan

The Shackleton family farm 320 acres in Co Cavan and have been producing organic grass-fed beef and lamb since 1996.

Grazing traditional breeds Aberdeen Angus and Belted Galloway run across 60ha of the farm while there is also 5ha of semi-natural habitats including bogs, wetland, woodland, hedgerows, hay meadows and stonewalls.

Jim Cronin, organic market garden farm, Co Clare

Jim Cronin has a 16-acre organic market garden farm in Co Clare. He has been using biological agriculture principles for the last 30 years alongside many traditional farming methods.

Jim’s farming ethos is entwined with nature conservation. He creates a habitat for pollinators and wildlife but also for all the unseen worms and micro-organisms which are fundamental to growing crops.

Stephen Morrison, suckler farm, Co Kildare

Stephen Morrison and his family live on the 300-acre farm near Kill, Co Kildare, and are the third generation to farm there.

Stephen is a full-time suckler farmer with 80 cows, taking all progeny to finish. He is not organic but is transitioning away from inputs. He also has a tillage and forestry enterprise. Whilst the farm is busy and productive, he farms in a way that has a low impact on the wildlife that live on the land.

Sinead Moran and Michael McGrath, micro-dairy farm, Co Mayo

Sinéad Moran & Michael McGrath own a micro-dairy with a herd of traditional breed cows on 40 acres of high nature value farmland in Co Mayo.

They sell raw organic milk direct to customers. They are passionate about conserving the species-rich grass, mature trees and both retaining and enhancing biodiversity that is found on their farm.

Andrew Bergin, tillage farm, Co Kildare

Andrew Bergin farms 320 acres of tillage ground in Co Kildare. He has been practising no-till cereals for a number of years, while managing the soil to promote high levels of biological benefits.

Andrew sows cover crops, and is constantly trailing what species work best for his soil and rotation. This is an integral part that has allowed him practise a system that benefits both the environment and the farmer.

Trevor Harris, mixed farm and horticulture, Co Kildare

Trevor Harris runs two farms in Co Kildare. The home farm consists of an organic cattle and sheep system. The beef is sold direct to customers and the lamb to a processorThere is also 12 acres of forestry and 40 acres of cereal with Trevor’s oats sold to Flavahans and his barley to make whiskey.

The second farm is horticultural land, made up of 14 acres outdoors and 1,500sq metres indoors. He grows vegetables for six restaurants in Dublin, a box scheme, and retail.

Thomas Keane, hill sheep farm, Co Galway

Thomas Keane farms in the Dawros catchment in Connemara, Co Galway. He farms 160 mountain ewes on high nature value peatlands and wet grasslands.

Tom’s system of farming has maintained and enhanced large areas of active Atlantic blanket bog. He is a participant of the Pearl Mussel Project EIP that rewards farmers for the ecological quality of their land, contributing to the pristine water quality needed by the mussel.

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