In order to formalise our commitment to produce our products in a sustainable manner, Derrycamma Farm has development a plan in conjunction with Bord Bia in order to be accepted as a certified member of the Origin Green programme.
Once we as a food producer have signed up to the Origin Green Charter, we agree clear objectives across three key areas: Raw Material Sourcing, Manufacturing Processes and Social Sustainability. Together we create a comprehensive and challenging five-year plan committing to sustainability improvements that are relevant to farming and oil production business. These plans are independently verified by SGS, a third party agency, and monitored on an annual basis. Some of the key objectives are outlined in the following paragraphs.
Eco Till Cultivation
At Derrycamma Farm we have established our crops using min till techniques for the past 5 years. As part of this programme we intend to have detailed reports on soil structure in each field. We will have a full insight into the characteristics of each plot. By knowing more about the soil we can tailor a fertiliser programme to suit each individual plot.
Eco till or minimum tillage cultivation is the avoidance of deep ploughing. A crop will gain most of its nutrients from the top 20cm of the soil so by only using non inversion cultivation techniques we will avoid burying the organic matter from the surface each year. Eco tillage builds up the organic matter of the soil as the years progress and hence the biologically activity of the surface is much improved. The benefit of improving the organic matter of the soil is the reduction of artificial fertiliser and hence a cost saving. There is also a reduction of CO2 released with the need for less fuel as less tractor power is needed.
Soil Structure and Organic Manures
Soil is the basis of all agricultural production and the conservation and improvement of this valuable resource must be of the highest priority in the production techniques applied at Derrycamma Farm. This allows crops to be grown on healthy and biologically active soil with a satisfactory level of organic matter, a good physical structure and sufficient fertility. As part of our soil management techniques we will convert from using all artificial fertilisers to maximising the use of organic poultry manure. The key benefit of this will be to improve the organic matter of the soil and lesser our dependence on expensive artificial fertilisers. There will also be a cost saving through the reduction of artificial fertiliser.
The use of organic poultry manure is monitored and reported to the Dept of Agriculture. As part of our European Single Farm Payment, Derrycamma Farm is obliged to record the use of all fertilisers both artificial and organic. On an annual basis, certain maximum levels of fertilisers are permitted under EU guidance. All documentation regarding their use must be recorded.
The use of RoundUp
RoundUp is a product which is used to killed growing weeds and plants. It can be used to kill weeds prior to sowing a crop but can also be used to kill all plants in a field prior to harvest. This use of glyphosate ( the active ingredient in RoundUp ) just prior to harvesting crops is referred to as desiccation. At Derrycamma we believe it is better not to use a chemical on the crop just prior to harvest and for that reason we do not spray any glyphosate on our Oilseed Rape Crop.
For a more detailed discussion on this topic click here.
Tree Planting and Wild Bird Cover
By planting trees and sowing Wild Bird Cover in suitable areas around the farm it is hoped to improve the general eco balance on the farm. The benefits of improving the on farm biodiversity are many and it is hoped to reverse any damage caused by intensive farming practices undertaken over the last 30 years.