'We felt we had to do something different' - why this couple turned to organic
Reaping no rewards from conventional farming, this couple turned to organic
Alan Ward and Emma Hennessy switched to organic farming this year as conventional farming was just not lucrative for them.
"Simply put, we were not making any money growing conventional barley and oats for animal feed," said Alan.
Farming in Ballylinnen just outside of Castlecomer, in Co Kilkenny, the couple joined the third tranche of the OFS at the end of 2018, and began farming organically on January 1, 2019.
While it is still early days the young pair are enthusiastic about the journey ahead. Having both grown up on farms they are keen for this new venture to work.
They farm approximately 70acres of land, a combination of bought land and a small portion of rented land. Alan also works off-farm in engineering.
Emma, who is currently studying a post-graduate in finance, explains their reason to switch. "There was no return at all once costs were accounted for, to us that is not a sustainable system of farming. You need some rewards for farming the land," she stated.
In addition to the cereal crops they also had Friesian and Angus bullocks, which were bought in spring and sold in autumn. Alan grew up on a mixed dairy, beef and tillage farm just down the road.
Having attended a talk by organic dairy farmer Brendan Gildea from Tuam, who milks a large herd of cows using three robots, his interest in the potential of organic farming was stimulated. "I felt that if he could do it then it had potential for us on this land.