Donal and Frederique Keane, together with their daughters Pauline and Marie and their son John, run an natural suckler to beef, cereal and eggs farm at Camelton Stud, Summerhill, and not too long ago hosted a Teagasc open day at their enterprise.
There has all the time been cattle and tillage enterprises on the Keane farm. In 2010, having sat down on the finish of the 12 months and looking on the total prices of their farming techniques in comparison with the returns, the Keane household began searching for another choices going ahead.
Donal, who additionally works as a barrister and is initially from Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, had all the time been uncomfortable with using chemical fertilisers and sprays on grassland and crops however thought that they have been needed.
With the growing price of inputs and falling worth of produce Donal knew he wanted to make a change. He began researching different farming techniques and spoke to numerous natural farmers.
On assembly a neighborhood natural farmer, who gave him an summary of the natural farming system, Donal started critically natural farming as an possibility and noticed it as a chance to enhance the general monetary place of the farm. The Keanes additionally recognised the environmental advantages of natural farming.
After cautious consideration and having accomplished the Teagasc FETAC Natural Farming course and visiting different natural farms, the farm entered natural conversion in 2011.
The Keanes have sowed pink clover, which fixes free nitrogen from the air and its silage could be very excessive in protein. It could end the Angus inventory with little or no grains which is vital as natural grains are very costly.
On the cattle aspect, they began a suckler herd with Angus cross cows working with an Angus bull.
This breed fits the natural system; simple calving, vigorous calves and inventory that end properly off grass or off pink clover silage.
The Keanes additionally elevated their tillage space considerably and commenced to develop oats on contract for Flahavans. Additionally they grew types of heritage wheat on a area scale as a part of a mission to provide flour excessive sufficient in protein (12.5pc) to make sourdough bread.
Talking on RTE Radio One’s ‘CountryWide’, Donal mentioned it was a need to return to a extra self reliant time sort of farming that prompted his household’s swap in the direction of natural farming.
“We mentioned we might return to doing what our nice grandparents did and farm contained in the boundaries of our personal farm and never herald lorry a great deal of fertiliser or different inputs. Regardless that the land produces much less, it is more healthy meals, and we’re farming inside our personal capabilities.”
Donal believes that given the ever growing restrictions being positioned on farmers, it is higher to make the swap to organics now by yourself phrases quite than have or not it’s pressured upon you sooner or later.
“I maintain telling neighbours that you are going natural whether or not you prefer it or not, you take a look at the restrictions concerning sprays and nitrates, it is all going in the direction of organics. We’re being requested to provide wholesome meals at a low worth in an environmentally pleasant method. Farmers are being blamed for the entire world warming disaster, this isn’t actually honest, there’s numerous misinformation being unfold by foyer teams who’ve a unique agenda.
“Any farmer serious about taking place that route you do have to work out the place is the marketplace for my produce, who’s who’s the processor who’s going to purchase it, can I course of it myself and the place is the market going to be. I consider there’s a market there, there’s a important premium for natural produce and it might be nice if the sector acquired greater as a result of there can be extra energy.”