Uplands Trimming Heather

Upland In-service training

April 21, 2023
By: Gerd Alscher

Training for Teagasc education staff on upland farming practices took place on Wednesday 19th April in Wicklow (in the east just below Dublin). The topics were very interesting. It is important to focus on the uplands so this was a useful day for those in attendance. This is useful for staff teaching learners who come from upland areas. The type of farming is different to lowland farmers. 

The training was delivered by Declan Byrne who has recently managed a project on upland farming called SUAS (Irish work meaning up) https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/en/find-connect/projects/sustainable-uplands-agri-environment-scheme-suas.html . Declan is an expert on the topic of farming in the uplands.

Some of the key messages include the need for animals to walk and graze the vegetation to prevent single species of plant from dominating plus the various interventions that can help biodiversity, and prevent soil erosion in times of severe weather conditions. The land is very different to lowland farms, and can be peaty and acidic in nature. 

Ownership of these hills is often a commonage (several owners share the grazing rights) so the SUAS project brought the owners together in groups to take actions as a group rather than individuals. This made a lot more progress in getting things done.

This images show where heather plants were trimmed and grazed rather than traditional practices such as burning which can lead to the establishment of unwanted species taking over post burning. 

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