Environmental Farming Scheme integrates with sustainable farm management

Date published: 04 July 2019

Anita Kirkpatrick and her husband David Kelly farm in partnership with Anita’s brother Alexander near Brookeborough Co. Fermanagh. The business is a mixed beef and sheep farm consisting of Aberdeen Angus cross Limousin suckler cows, producing calves for the weanling market. They also run a small flock of crossbred ewes with all lambs finished off grass.

‘Phelim Connolly, Agri-Environment Adviser, CAFRE discussing the Agro forestry plot with Anita Kirkpatrick’.

The farm is located along the Colebrooke River. With this in mind Anita has sought to balance productive agriculture in addition to carefully considering any impacts this may have on the local environment. Anita recently hosted a Business Development Group meeting, and explained to the members present.

‘It was important for us as a family to try and establish a sustainable farming enterprise here on the farm, however we did not want to do it at the expense of the environment. To that end we joined the Environmental Farming Scheme (wider level) in 2017. The scheme encouraged us to protect nearly 900 metres of the Colebrooke River by creating a 2 metre wide Ungrazed Riparian Buffer with protective fence. We also established 0.70ha of Agro Forestry which links two existing woodlands on the farm and makes best use of a steep hill which was difficult to manage with agricultural machinery.

Agro forestry permits grazing within the newly planted woodland and continues to be eligible for Basic Payment Scheme.

With careful implementation of Environmental Farming Scheme options, Anita and her family will improve water quality, biodiversity and carbon capture in the coming years while also integrating some Business Development Group themes, subdividing fields resulting in better utilisation of available grass for livestock.

Now is a good time to consider which options may suit your farm business and also help to protect the local environment.

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