Increase farming knowledge and skills by joining a BDG

ABOVE: Sean McBride, sheep farmer from Ballycastle, discusses the new Environmental Farming BDGs and his interest in the Pontbren hedge style with CAFRE technologist Bryan Irvine.

FARMERS are being urged to increase their knowledge and skills by joining an Environmental Farming Business Development Group (BDG).

The call has come from DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) and is aimed at increasing awareness of the large range of environmental public goods produced by our farms.

ABOVE: Level 3 Diploma students at Greenmount College plant a mixed hawthorn hedge demonstrating several methods of weed control.

BDGs meet six times a year and are led by a local agri-environment adviser who will explore a wide range of topics, including ammonia, soil health, nutrient management planning, water quality, carbon, habitat management and biodiversity. Financial support of £600 is available for hosting a farm visit in addition to support for analytical services and benchmarking.

For example, the benchmarking of biodiversity key indicators for field boundaries and their management to maximise their benefits will be one of the many topics discussed in the new Environmental Farming BDGs currently open for application.

A recent biodiversity survey of CAFRE’s Dairy Unit at Greenmount has highlighted the strong environmental benefits of 22km of hedgerows across this farm.

The multiple services provided by these farm boundaries include shelter, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, capture of harmful airborne particles, soil conservation, landscape enhancement and the feeding and nesting habitat for pollinators and other insects and birds.

CAFRE is currently developing different hedge management strategies to maximise these services and linking habitats between the farm and with habitats in the surrounding area so that we think bigger than our own farm.

If you want more information on these BDG groups visit the CAFRE website at:

Closing date for applications is 4pm on January 31.


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