Catchment News

Farming for Nature farm walks: McCall’s Farm, Calverstown, County Kildare

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On a beautiful June afternoon in 2019, Kim McCall led 50 people around his family’s 214-acre farm situated near the small village of Calverstown in South Kildare. The day was organised through the Farming for Nature initiative. Kim explained how they farm the land to promote biological activity in their soils and interaction between plants, soils and animals.

The tour included an overview of old permanent pasture and the use of a variety of grasses and wild flowers including clovers, plantain, dandelions, daisies and yarrow amongst others. He explained that you need to understand the land to manage it properly for nature. For example, in the wet grasslands his Aubrac pedigree cattle and Rouge de l’Ouest ewes graze between September to the end of April but are excluded in the summer time. This allows the flowering habitat to re-seed naturally and flourish. As he says the grazing cow is the management tool for promoting the natural habitat.

Walking through woodlands on McCall’s farm.

To promote soil fertility, they use biochar to spread on the soil which prevents the leeching of nutrients. They make biochar on the farm by burning scrap wood from trees in a flame cap kiln.

Forestry covers 30 acres of the farm with a mixture of softwood and hardwood tress including sitka spruce, birch, chestnut, alder, oak and beech. Even in the vegetable garden some of the vegetables are left to produce flowers for pollinators and other insects. Pollinators are well catered for on this farm!

The day was finished off with tea and cake and was a wonderful opportunity to sit in their lovely garden and watch the bees hard at work. It was a great demonstration of how a farm can be productive and provide a sustainable income for a family while giving back to nature. Fuel for thought and action!

Marie Archbold, EPA Catchment Science and Management Unit

Learn more:

The bee hotel on the castle.

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