The National Rural Network and Macra na Feirme have announced the addition of a new Biodiversity Award to the 2018 FBD Young Farmer of the Year competition.

The aim of this new award is to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity in the farming community. Agriculture relies on biodiversity in many ways: bees pollinate crops, earthworms build soil fertility, bacteria and soil biota breakdown nutrients and birds and insects keep plant disease and pests in check.

Macra na Feirme National President James Healy said, “We are delighted with the addition of the National Rural Network Biodiversity Award to the FBD Young Farmer of the Year competition. As an organisation that represents young farmers, we place the utmost importance on sustainable farming and practising farming methods that improve biodiversity. This award will recognise our young farmers who are going the extra mile to secure our farms and environment for future generations.”

The National Rural Network Biodiversity Award will demonstrate how farmers can incorporate biodiversity enhancements on their farms, e.g. retaining existing hedgerows, planting new hedgerows, maintaining buffer strips at field margins, fencing of watercourses and allowing birds and bats to nest in farm buildings and crop rotation.

Commenting on the National Rural Network Biodiversity Award, Philip Farrelly from the National Rural Network said, “Farmers play a major role in maintaining and managing biodiversity. They are the custodians of the land and the environment and their actions play a key role in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity. Farmers have to be able to demonstrate it is possible to produce food sustainably while meeting the needs of the environment. The National Rural Network believes the inclusion of the biodiversity award in the FBD Young Farmer of the Year competition will raise farmers’ awareness of biodiversity.”

The Rural Development Programme (RDP 2014-2020) provides funding for agri-environment, climate measures and knowledge transfer. Measures undertaken by farmers under schemes such as GLAS and the Organic Farming scheme have already delivered many positive impacts on biodiversity.

These include:

  • reductions in fertiliser usage;
  • management of riverbanks to protect rivers leading to improvements in water quality;
  • the promotion of grassland management systems that result in a more diverse sward with an increase in flora and fauna;
  • planting of trees;
  • enhancement of bird populations through the provision of wild bird cover and bird boxes;
  • promotion of bat and bee populations through the provision of bat and bee boxes and the preservation of bee nesting sites; and,
  • support for wild flower and wild grasses through the promotion of low input permanent pastures.

In addition, the Knowledge Transfer scheme has been used to enhance adviser knowledge on biodiversity and bring the priorities of biodiversity preservation to the top of the farming agenda.

Full details of how to enter the 2018 Young Farmer of the Year competition are available on the Macra website.

Source: National Rural Network