Farm families up and down the country have planted over 80,000 hedgerow shrubs and native Irish trees since last December, nearly meeting the two-year target for the first phase of Glanbia Ireland’s nation-wide Operation Biodiversity plan in just five months.
Over 81,000 whitethorn, green beech, blackthorn and oak trees have been planted on farms since mid-December under the Glanbia Ireland subsidised initiative.
These will provide shelter for wildlife and create special environments for biodiversity on farms and in gardens.
Phase two is just underway and Glanbia Ireland is now focusing on boosting clover cover in grazed pastures to improve grass and milk yields and the environmental credentials of family farms.
The co-op is also teaming up with its farmers, loyal retail outlet, garden centre and online customers to lift the nation’s spirits as Operation Biodiversity II gets set to promote the use of pollinator-friendly seeds and colourful farm pollinator mixes.
To boost take-up, Glanbia is offering customers - who buy a half acre Pollinator mix bag - a free box of wildflower seeds which are ideal for use either in gardens or on farms.
They’re available now in CountryLife outlets, online at GlanbiaConnect and GlanbiaCountryLife or on request at Glanbia Ireland’s 50 plus agri stores.
Meanwhile, the blends of annual and perennial species in the pollinator mix include Poppy, Crimson, Clover, Buckwheat and more - all of which benefit bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects for the longest period possible from spring through to early autumn.
Several species included are highlighted by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan as a suitable food source for pollinators.
The clover mixes available under Operation Biodiversity II are suitable for permanent pastures and contribute to improved soil health and sustainable farming practices.
Dairy farmer in Portlaw, Co Waterford, Shane Fitzgerald, has long been a biodiversity champion and last year transformed a bank by a new shed into a massive wildflower bed.
“We sowed wild flower seeds last June to create a habitat that would encourage varying species of flora and fauna to create their own natural ecosystem,” he added.
“They flowered straight away and the bank was a hive of activity for weeks.
“It didn’t take anything away from our milk production system and it created a home for new species of wildlife that has further increased our on-farm biodiversity.
“We’re adding other similar areas around the farm this year and have plans for multi-species swards on two hectares and to plant native hedgerows along a fence from next year.”
Glanbia Ireland chairman, John Murphy, said farmers were eager to increase the biodiversity value of their farms and improve soil nutrition in a natural, sustainable way.
“Operation Biodiversity II is all about maximising grass growth, incorporating clover and creating biodiversity spaces, including around farmyards, farm laneways, field margins, arable margins, watercourse margins, field corners and roadside verges,” he added.
“It’s a win-win for farmers as they can increase the biodiversity value of a farm, while maintaining productivity.