Further and higher education establishments such as CAFRE should teach students courses on regenerative agriculture, Dundonald farmer Tim Morrow has suggested.

Appearing in front of the Stormont Agriculture committee last Thursday as part of a delegation from the Nature Friendly Farming Network, the Co Down dairy farmer said farmers have to send sons or daughters to Limerick to get taught on regenerative farming.

“I think we need to have a course on regenerative agriculture at Greenmount instead of teaching high-input farming. The education system is not actually teaching people about soil and the importance of it,” Morrow told MLAs.

Tim Morrow (left), Cormac Dolan and Bronagh O’Kane used Balmoral Show to promote Fields Good, a one-day regenerative agriculture festival taking place at Glenarm Estate on Saturday 7 September.

He maintained that customers for our products want farmers to rely less on artificial inputs into the future, but was critical of the lack of clear direction from government or any incentives to plant the likes of multi-species swards.

In his own situation, he said he was in Year 4 of a 10-year transition to plant his farm out in herbal leys. With slightly less forage being grown, cow numbers are down 5%, but that lost output is more than compensated by a 33% reduction in fertiliser use.

“I wouldn’t say I’m making any more money off it, but I’m not losing money and I can see far more life on the farm,” said Morrow.

“I’m a farmer. I know the pressures that we’re all under financially and I actually see this as a way out of the problem,” he added.