Offaly woman wins forestry prize at RDS Spring Awards

The Tullamore woman picked up the award for her forest

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

Offaly woman wins forestry prize at RDS Spring Awards

Offaly woman wins forestry prize at RDS Spring Awards

Ashling Minnock from Tullamore has picked up the 2018 Production Forestry Award for her forest in Durrow at the 2018 RDS Spring Awards.

Farmers from around the country received the awards at a ceremony in Ballsbridge with new Awards recognising the genetic merit of the best beef and dairy herds, as well as a first Teagsac Farm Forestry Award. The Awards were presented by RDS President Bernie Brennan and Andrew Doyle TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Ashling Minnock’s farm has been in the Minnock family for an impressive eight generations. The forest was established in 1999 by her late husband, Brendan, and has been managed by Ashling since he died in 2009.

It is being managed for timber production and has a good mix of species; about 70% in equal areas of Sitka Spruce and Norway Spruce, the rest comprising between 5 and 10% each of sycamore, ash and Norway maple with smaller amounts of Italian alder and Japanese larch.

What particularly impressed the judges here was that the entire area was mapped, a full inventory was done, and information of yield class and stocking was available for each stand together with a production plan.

This level of management information is unusual in farm forestry, but the judges highlighted it as an example of best practice they would like to see for all production forests.

Speaking at the presentation of the Awards, Minister Doyle commented, “I am pleased that the RDS Spring Agriculture Awards relate to both agriculture and forestry. I believe that forestry can complement other farming enterprises, which when combined together will contribute to the profitability and sustainability of the overall farm business."

"I encourage farmers to seriously consider forestry as part of their farming mix. Planting part of a farm, perhaps the more remote or more difficult land, can provide an additional source of income while allowing landowners to maintain their existing output.”

The Minister continued, "Livestock farming continues to be a critical part of farming in Ireland and pedigree breeders have a major role in this regard."

"The Livestock awards on offer today were designed to give recognition to the integral part pedigree breeders play in this industry.  It is clear that we have added a scientific dimension to cattle breeding in recent years and pedigree breeders have adopted these technologies."

"Their involvement with ICBF and in data recording systems is paramount. I would like to congratulate all of today's individual award winners and wish them every success in their future breeding and showing ventures."

Michael Duffy, Chief Executive of the RDS said: "Climate change and food security are two of the most important issues of this century, and will have severe long-term consequences. Ireland has a responsibility in both areas. To be smart and effective in the way we produce higher quality food, and to be responsible and diligent in tackling our greenhouse gas emissions."

"The forestry and livestock sectors are seen by many farmers as being at opposite ends of the agriculture spectrum. Farmers are usually involved in one sector or the other, but rarely both," he continued.

"However, the future of both sectors is set to be linked like never before through the international requirement to view our agricultural emissions holistically. We will be obliged to balance our dairy and beef greenhouse gas emissions, with our carbon sequestration through our forests and woodlands."

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