independent

Sunday 16 June 2019

UNESCO eco award for students

John Tarrant

Three students from Millstreet Community School scaled the heights to win a category prize at the ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Final hosted in the Convention Centre, Dublin.

The Millstreet entry, entitled 'Herbal Leys: Can Alternative Pastures Outperform Artificial Fertilizers?' focused on an alternative to conventional intensive farming which is over dependent on harmful artificial fertilizers and therefore unsustainable.

Herbal Leys is a complex seed mixture containing grasses, legumes and herbs with up to 17 different species within this seed mixture.

Team members Bevin Murphy, Darren Kiely and Omar Daly conducted a survey at a local mart and among primary school students who come from a farming background.

"Over a thousand survey sheets were distributed, 772 responded; 84 per cent said that they had never heard of Herbal Leys. It showed a lack of awareness towards alternative methods of grass production", said Bevin.

"The only downfall to Herbal Leys is that it is slightly more expensive than the regular perennial rye grass; however, in the long run its many benefits outweigh the cost. If there was a grant available, similar to REPS, this would encourage more farmers to convert their permanent pasture to Herbal Leys", she said.

The Millstreet students concluded that the environmental benefits of using and developing diverse pastures are something which has to be taken seriously.

"Biodiversity and sustainability are key words in the preservation of the environment. The land has to be protected to last into the future. Over fertilisation provides results in the short run but at what cost in the long term", said Bevin.

A second Millstreet entry involved Luke O'Donoughue, Patrick Cronin and Dylan Downey investigating the quality of North Cork's water. Former president Mary Robinson, who lent her support to the awards, commended the young people on playing an increasingly important role in the fight against climate change and environmental issues Millstreet teacher Jennifer O'Donoghue applauded the Millstreet participants in their actions to improve and protect the environment.

"All involved would like to thank Millstreet Community Council for their financial support which allowed both projects to be showcased initially", she said.

Corkman

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