Green policy,good profit

28 September 2001

Green policy,good profit

RICHARD and Violet Connells dairy farm lies among some of the most stunning countryside to be found anywhere in the world.

The plush green fields, rugged mountains and rocky coast of West Cork entice thousands of visitors from all over the world each year. But the terrain that attracts the tourists does not make it easy to farm.

"It is rough countryside with a rocky outcrop, although it is a mild climate and the grazing is usually good," Mr Connell told FARMERS WEEKLY.

The Connells keep 60 Friesian dairy cows and followers on 72ha (180 acres) of land near Gollen, on Mizen Head, the most south westerly peninsula in Ireland.

A great advert for Irish farming, they have made a success of the dairy herd. They supplement this income by providing accommodation, just a mile from the sea, for those who come to enjoy the fresh air, peace and beauty of the peninsula.

Last year they were rewarded for their ability to run a profitable and diverse business, while also caring for the environment. They won the 2000 Royal Dublin Society Profitable Farming & Conservation Award, picking up £2000 for beating a nationwide field of about 150 entrants.

Their profitability figures were impressive – a gross dairy margin of IR£1230/ha and a margin of IR£1013/ha on dry stock. The judges also noted the success of the five bedroom guest house of 10 years and the self catering accommodation, added three years ago.

But it is the dedication to looking after the areas greatest asset, its countryside, that probably tipped the balance their way. "As well as farming we want to make sure we look after the environment and share our land with animals and plants," Mr Connell said.

The farm receives payments under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme for initiatives such as keeping chemicals away from hedgerows and water courses. The farm also has "100% pollution control", according to Mr Connell, with all the water run-off collected in tanks.

The couple plant about 700m of hedgerows each year and have covered 2ha of land with broad-leaved trees in the last five years. Birds are encouraged by the provision of nesting boxes at strategic points.

Their determination to work with the environment rather than against it is manifested in stonework walls and buildings that characterise the farm. "The self catering cottage was built out of stone in keeping with the environment. It is new but you would think it was 200 years old," Mr Connell said.

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