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Sustainable Agriculture - Dr. Deirdre Hennessy from UCC

Scoil an Athar Tadhg was delighted to invite Dr. Deirdre Hennessy from UCC to speak to us about the importance of Sustainable Agriculture. Dr. Hennessy spoke about the many different uses of grass for sports fields, gardens, farmland and food sources. The importance of grass as a foodstuff (grass, silage and hay) was highlighted and how it can be fertilised in a sustainable way. We learned how ruminant animals can convert the inedible protein from grass to meat, for human consumption.

Dr. Hennessy outlined how we can support sustainable grass growth through the use of other plants such as white and red clover. She described how grass and clover have a symbiotic relationship which can fix nitrogen in the soil and help carbon sequestration. Dr. Hennessy highlighted the importance of biodiversity above the soil and below the soil and the many different ways in which we can improve biodiversity on our farms, gardens and local community. 

What can we do? 

  • ​Reduce artificial fertilisers and utilise slurry/manure in a sustainable way to support grass growth.

  • Plant other plant species such as clover with grass to encourage nitrogen fixation. 

  • Move out fences to allow more wild areas along hedgerows for plant and animal biodiversity.

  • Try not to dig up/ disturb the soil to reduce carbon escaping into the atmosphere. 

  • Use a mix of plant species to utilise nutrients in the soil efficiently and to improve biodiversity.

  • Drain the land appropriately so that it supports biodiversity below the soil (insects, bugs and earthworms).

  • Planting trees and hedges around farms and boundaries can improve biodiversity for other plants and animals, improve air quality and provide shelter for new life. 

Thanks to Dr. Deirdre Hennessy for highlighting the importance of Sustainable Agriculture and outlining how we can all play a part to increase biodiversity and take care of our plants and animals for future generations to come. 

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