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  • Writer's picturePippa Hackett

Growing Organics farm walk

I can't think of a better way to mark the beginning of May than taking a “Growing Organics” dairy farm walk in lovely Laois.


It was my privilege to open the first Growing Organics farm walk of the year at Bill and Marianne George’s dairy and tillage farm in Arles, Co. Laois.

I think all farmers are hoping that May will bring good weather to allow us get on with the work that has been building up in recent weeks and months. It’s been a long, hard winter for Irish farmers. We’re facing challenges like never before around generational renewal, water quality, climate change, and ensuring that farmers have a decent standard of living and quality of life. I think stories like that of Bill and Marianne, and a farm system like theirs,

will give farmers real food for thought coming off the Winter of 2023/24.


Bill and Marianne’s farm has been organic for over 20 years. The stocking rate on the grazing platform without artificial inputs is running at 2.5 livestock units per hectare, with the overall stocking rate on the farm at 1.7 livestock units per hectare.  Like any farming system, there are challenges to be overcome when switching to organics, and it was great to hear Bill and Marianne discuss those challenges, and the solutions, so openly.

There has been plenty of discussion about organics and its pros and cons over the last few years, but nothing beats talking to an organic farmer and getting honest answers to your questions. I’d really encourage farmers to keep an eye out for organic farm walks in their area over the coming weeks and months, and to go along if they can at all to hear for themselves how it works day-to-day on the ground.”





To illustrate the increased level of supports to farmers under the Organic Farming Scheme, a payments calculator has been developed for farmers and is available at:

This calculator displays the value for each farmer of converting to organic.

A guide to the Organic Farming Scheme application process and a FAQ document is available on the Department’s website to assist potential applicants at: Organic Farming Scheme.

Teagasc have developed a series of new Organic Factsheets to give information to farmers considering organic enterprise options. In addition, a new guide “Organic Farming – A Step-by-Step Guide to Conversion” has been developed and is available on the Teagasc website.

Copies of the Organic Farming Scheme terms and conditions are available on the department's organics page at Organic Farming Scheme.

The overall objective of the Organic Farming Scheme is to deliver enhanced environmental and animal welfare benefits and to encourage producers to respond to the market demand for organically produced food.

A total budget of €256 million has been allocated to the OFS over the lifetime of the new CAP.

Information on the EU action plan for organics is available: Organic action plan (


New farm monitoring model

This is the second year of the Growing Organics programme. The Farm Demonstrations involve 4 regional farm walks per annum between May and November. The walks are spread across the main farming enterprises of beef, dairy, sheep, tillage and will be geographically dispersed based on participating farms.


These demonstrations are jointly run and will be resourced and staffed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc and Bord Bia.

An information booklet will be provided to attendees and Information Boards will be signposted at the farm and involve presentations from Teagasc on selected topics.


In addition, the 6 new organic advisors appointed by Teagasc last year will organise approximately 24 farm walks across the country to allow farmers to attend local events.


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