The winner of the 2022 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award has been announced as Co. Cavan farmer, Cathal Rudden. 

Cathal was presented with his award in Co. Dublin by Teagasc director, Prof. Frank O’Mara and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett. 

Receiving the Special Commendation Award in the 2022 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Category were Cork farmers, Willie and Avril Allshire. 

Farm Forestry Award

Farming 48ha in Stradone, Co. Cavan, Cathal Rudden manages a suckler herd and a substantial young forestry enterprise.

In 2014, Cathal decided to plant mainly for economic reasons, identifying forestry as a steady and reliable income stream, providing him with security to plan and manage the rest of his farm enterprise.

Today, half of Cathal’s farm is planted with a mix of sitka spruce and oak, which he manages as a long-term economic and environmental investment for him and his family.

On receiving his award Cathal said: “I am surprised and delighted to win the RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award and I would like to thank my wife Rita and my family for their support. Also my local Teagasc forestry advisor Kevin O’Connell for his advice and support.”

The RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award category recognises working farmers who follow a whole farm planning approach to successfully integrate their farm and forestry enterprises and contribute to farming sustainability. 

Congratulating Cathal Rudden, Prof. Frank O’Mara, highlighted how “the award acknowledges Cathal’s role in future proofing his family farm through the sustainable integration of his forestry and farming enterprises”.

“With many challenges facing farming, farmers need to forward plan and consider how to innovate and the role that diversification could play on their farm,” O’Mara added.

“Cathal is an excellent example of a farmer at the forefront of the economic and environmental sustainability of Irish agriculture.”

RDS president, Prof. J. Owen Lewis said: “It is more important than ever to recognise the work of our farmers and foresters who are contributing to the sustainable development of Irish agriculture.

“This year’s award winners have achieved a balance between the economic and environmental needs of the sector and are highlighting what is possible when experience is combined with innovation and dedication.”  

In highlighting how farms and forests can work so well together, Noel Kennedy, Teagasc Forestry advisor said: “Forward planning and active management are key ingredients for farmers to get the most from integrating farming and forestry.

“Improved shelter, extended grass growing season, enhanced biodiversity and protection of water quality – not to mention timber production and carbon sequestration can all be achieved and are at the heart of the RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award.”

Ballyhaise-based Teagasc forestry advisor, Kevin O’Connell added: “This award is well deserved and reflects Cathal’s commitment to his farming and forestry complementing each other.

“Cathal is also building his forestry knowledge and willing to share his own experience as a farmer forester through his active involvement with the North East Forest Owners’ Group. His success is a great example for others to aspire to.”