Farmers could be able to do more for biodiversity and nature – at little cost – with education and “contact on the ground”, one beef and organic farmer believes.

Thomas Earley, from Leitrim, is a suckler beef farmer with an organic enterprise on his farm. Speaking to AgriLand, he said that, though he can only speak from his own experience, farmers can do a lot for the environment with the right help and incentives.

Earley owns an area of bog on his holding, and though he receives no payments on it, he has a view to rewetting it, which, he added, “could do a lot as a carbon store”.

Earley also organises ‘eco-walks’ on his farm, so other farmers can see what he is doing and benefit from the example.

The Co. Leitrim farmer is also focused on expanding a vegetable growing enterprise, complete with polytunnels and a back-up water supply from a pond dug out specifically for that purpose.

“The pond is there in case the water supply is knocked out,” he explained.

However, that is not the pond’s only purpose.

According to Earley, digging out ponds is a cost-effective, easy means of improving biodiversity, and he highlighted the importance of introducing a scheme specific to that purpose.

There were always ponds on farms for animals to drink from back along. Once it’s in safely, with a bit of planing, it can be done.

When the pond is in, with a gentle slope leading to it, wildlife can “come and go”, he explained.

“Most farmers want to do right by nature. It’s all down to education and more contact on the ground.”

Meanwhile, Earley says he is “quite happy” with his current set-up, both on the beef side and the organic enterprise.

And, with the current weather patterns in the north and west of the country, he suggested that growing vegetables is an enterprise in which farmers in the region can hold an advantage over farmers in parts of the country that are becoming increasingly drier.