A father and son who farm together in Ireland received a national award for adopting no-till on their 400 acres.
Michael and Norman Dunne received the Public Choice Award at the 2021 National Farming For Nature Ambassador Awards in October. Thousands of people voted to recognize the Maynooth, Co. Kildare, farmers for their efforts to switch from conventional tillage to regenerative farming.
The Dunnes began transitioning to no-till in 2016. They grow beans, oats, barley, wheat and hay for animals using no-till and minimum tillage. The family also keeps pigs and sheep to graze cover crops and pasture.
They’re focused on regenerating soil biology and reducing their inputs. Crop rotations, permanent organic soil cover systems and multi-species cover crops are working to build soil fertility and soil structure. The Dunnes are also experimenting with biodynamic preparations and Korean natural farming methods to improve soil biology and inoculate seeds before sowing.
“Every year, we step it up a notch,” Norman Dunne says. “For the last three years, we have been using no insecticides. Of late, we have moved towards inoculating seed, saving our own seeds, inoculating them with biological seeds and root-enhancing, natural products.”
The transition has turned poor performing fields to better performing fields in just a few years. The family has also experienced a boom in biodiversity and a return of a number of bird species to the farm.
“This father-son duo are wonderful examples of farmers who, over the past number of years, have been gradually moving away from an intensive tillage operation to a regenerative farming system operating under the principles of conservation agriculture,” says Brigid Barry, Farming for Nature coordinator.
Norman Dunne recently sat down with Barry for an hour-long Q&A session about the family’s transition to no-till and regenerative farming. Watch a replay of the conversation here.
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