Farming

Tim passionate about protecting water quality

February 20th, 2021 8:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

Drinagh Co-Op’s sustainability winner for 2020, Tim O’Mahony, is the 14th generation of his family to farm their land at Cooladreen, Leap. He says he is beginning to appreciate the value of grass measuring. (Photo: Don MacMonagle)

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FARMER Tim O’Mahony feels passionate about his role in protecting water quality for generations to come.

Based at Cooladreen, Leap, where he farms 90 acres, and has 90 cows, Tim was Drinagh Co-op’s Sustainability Winner for 2020.

He’s told he’s the 14th generation of his family to farm his land and, until recently, farmed with his father Sean. Sadly, Sean passed away last Christmas Day, and Tim recalls how even on the day he went into hospital, he was out and about in the yard.

‘He was very hands-on, and he is missed,’ said Tim, who has been farming since 1999.

Breeding and grass production are two areas of farming Tim puts a lot of emphasis on, and which return him good results.

His cows, last year, produced 488kg milk solids on a tonne of concentrate.

He plans to reduce that with grass this year, and also plans on slightly reducing stocking levels.

‘We’ve an EBI of 155. I put a good bit of time into this and it has gradually paid off – we’re seeing an improvement in the longevity, fertility and productivity of the cows,’ he said.

Grass measuring is another area he focuses on: ‘I’m still relatively new to it but I’d already be seeing some benefits. I’m very much of the opinion that grass is what we do best, it’s good for our image, for our product, and we need to be using it to the maximum.’

‘I’m also in a Grassmasters discussion group, which has helped me in my farm outlook and development.’

Interestingly, Tim uses a contract rearer for all his heifers and younger stock, to allow him focus on his cows and grass.

‘I would only get them when they’re two months from calving.

‘And while it is expensive, I consider it a worthwhile cost,’ said Tim.

His attitude is to ‘farm with nature,’ and that sees him regularly plant trees and hedgerows.

He says he’s very supportive of innovations that would involve installing solar panels on farm buildings designed to sell energy back to the national grid.

‘I also feel very strongly that we’re the first line of defence in a lot of cases when it comes to protecting our water quality.

‘With that in mind I think our focus needs to be on spreading less fertiliser, moving towards protected urea and spreading only when the grass needs it and when it’s dry.’

Married to GP Julie, they are parents to Mary Jo (8), Sean (6) and Conor (4).

Tim concluded: ‘The family farm is the most important thing you can have – they are keeping rural Ireland alive.’

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