Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2019 was officially launched by Minister of State Andrew Doyle at the Teagasc Kildalton Agriculture College today, Monday, October 21.

During the week, Teagasc will hold events for machinery contractors and farmers, as well as engaging with other stakeholders with an interest in hedgerows.

The aim of this is to highlight best practice in hedgerow maintenance which provides the ideal environment for birds and pollinators.

Launching the week, Minister Andrew Doyle said: “Hedgerows are important habitats for wildlife and play an important role in maintaining and improving the biodiversity in our countryside.”

Teagasc countryside management specialist Catherine Keena said:

We are asking contractors and farmers who are trimming hedges to shape the hedge to a triangular profile from a wider base to allow light at the base, leaving the peak at least 1.5m (5ft) from ground level, or the top of the hedge bank, and allow occasional thorn saplings to grow up into individual trees.

“This will create the ideal conditions for birds to nest, providing cover from predators above and below the nest, and providing flowers in summer for bees and other pollinators, and berries in autumn for birds and small mammals.”

The specialist stressed that the quest for neatness and tidiness should not override ecological considerations.

Francis Quigley, machinery specialist with Teagasc based at Kildalton, added: “We have met the contractor organisations, Farm Contractors Ireland (FCI) and PAC Ireland and they are very supportive of this initiative.

“We also have the support of FTMTA (Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association).

On Wednesday of this week we are holding a hedge-cutting contractor event at the Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, Co. Limerick, when we will have a working demonstration of hedge-cutting taking place and a range of hedge-cutting equipment will be on display.

Teagasc director Prof. Gerry Boyle concluded saying: “Hedgerows give the Irish landscape its distinctive character and field pattern.

“They provide important wildlife habitat for woodland flora and fauna, comprising invaluable networks for nature throughout the farmed landscape.

“Increasing the variety of hedgerow types in terms of height, width and shape promotes diversity in flora and fauna.”

The hedgerow maintenance period runs from September 1 to the end of February.