A PIONEERING County Limerick farmer who has set aside a quarter of his land for biodiversity and wildlife, has won the national Farming For Nature (FFN) public vote award.
Sean Condon, who manages an extensive dairy farm in Crecora, takes a holistic approach on his organic farm to ensure that both he and his livestock are economically and ecologically efficient.
External inputs on the farm are extremely low and Sean takes pride in managing a low-input, low intensity productive farm. Some of the milk produced is sold under his own brand of organic raw milk – Templeroe milk. The remainder is sold to the Little Milk Company.
Sean is passionate about maintaining traditional farming systems whereby production and nature work in harmony.
“For me, farming for nature may be more about what I’m not doing rather than what I am doing,” he explains.
Permanent pasture, mature hedgerows, pockets of woodland and a pond all provide important habitats for the healthy population of birds and other wildlife on the land. Some years ago, a reed-bed system was installed to clean run-off water from the farmyard.
Sean leaves wild plants grow around the farm and recognises their importance in farmland ecosystems.
“if you don’t have some weeds on the land then you don’t have insects, and without insects there is not much food source for young birds,” he added.
The winner was announced at the 2022 FFN Ambassador Awards in Corofin, County Clare last Saturday when five examples of farmers supporting nature on their lands were presented and 15 new farming ambassadors were welcomed into the FFN network.
FFN ambassadors span the beef, dairy, sheep, tillage, forestry and horticulture sectors. They not only manage farming systems that are agriculturally progressive, ecologically sound and economically viable, but are also actively engaged in sharing their work, stories and practical knowledge with their community.”
Deirdre Ryan, director of Bord Bia’s Origin Green Programme, which sponsored the awards, said the FFN programme is a “worthy and progressive initiative”.
“Farming For Nature has had an important role to play in guiding the discourse around Irish agriculture by raising awareness of the variety of valuable habitats that are carefully managed by Irish farmers.
“It puts farmers at the core of the conversations around environmental management and protection, and allows them to inspire others in the sector,” she added.