For 25 years Andrew Nottage worked for Russell Smith Farms (College Farm) and at their last meeting the Club benefitted from his extensive knowledge of not only the farming but also the flora and the wildlife.
We learned so many things about College Farm – all positives.
Yes, we knew that the farm has been supplying many supermarkets with high-quality root vegetables, both organic and conventional,for several years particularly potatoes and onions but we did not realise the painstaking efforts taken to ensure that wildlife prospers in the fields because of careful management. Wild flowers are grown at the field margins providing habitat for small mammals – wild mignonette, ox-eye daisy, coltsfoot grow undisturbed – so good for the insects. Stubble is left for nesting birds as are squares in the middle of cultivated fields for skylarks in particular. Beetle banks (grass mounds ) in the middle of arable farmland provide essential over-wintering habitat for insects and spiders. Some of these insects move into the crop in spring and eat crop pests such as aphids thus reducing the need for insecticides.proud habitat for small mammals. Then there are the hedgerows – carefully managed to allow corridors for wildlife to travel and find food. I could continue but space does not allow.
We were impressed by the use of sophisticated technology on farm machines which allows fields to be ‘read’. This ‘mapping’ ensures that the correct amount of e.g. fertiliser can be applied according to the differing soil types across a field.
A proud member of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) College Farm promotes environmentally responsible farming – do go along to the next Open Farm Day to learn more about this widely admired and respected farm.
As for Andrew – well, there is another dimension to his life. Many farmers in Ireland are benefitting from his expertise as he provides potato agronomy, farm management and business support never forgetting the need to care for the environment. We can be certain that he will ensure that the good work continues unabated at College Farm. Well done Andrew.