A snapshot of farms in north County Leitrim

The IDEAL-HNV project aims to describe the types of HNV farmland that are found in Ireland. To do this we will be sampling ~100 farms in seven areas that have been assessed as having high potential for the occurrence of HNV farms.

To date, one case study area has been selected, north County Leitrim.  We piloted our field-sampling strategy there. Ten farmers agreed to participate in the survey. They allowed all the habitats on the farm to be surveyed and completed a short questionnaire.

The farms were an average of 42 ha in size (they ranged from 10 to 95 ha). The average stocking density of the surveyed farms was just under 1LU/ha (they ranged from 0.6 to 1.4 LU/ha). Sixteen semi-natural habitats were identified on these farms. Excluding field boundaries, there was an average of 6 semi-natural habitats covering an average of 50% of the area of these farms. These included habitats such as Dry Calcareous and Neutral Grassland, Wet Grassland and Wet Willow-Alder-Ash Woodland.

Semi-natural grasslands in County Leitrim

Dry Calcareous Grassland with Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Fairy Flax (Linum catharticum) and Knapweed (Centaurea nigra).

Dry Calcareous Grassland with Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Fairy Flax (Linum catharticum) and Knapweed (Centaurea nigra).

Acid Grassland with Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile) and Hylocomium splendens, a common moss in this habitat.

Acid Grassland with Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile) and Hylocomium splendens, a common moss in this habitat.

Wet grassland with high abundance of Devils-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis).

Wet grassland with high abundance of Devils-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis).

There was also a high diversity of field boundaries. Hedgerows were very common with earth banks, drainage ditches, stone walls and treelines also contributing to the biodiversity of these farms. There was an average of 230m of field boundaries per ha (excluding wire fences) on the farms surveys.

Field boundaries in County Leitrim

Species-rich hedgerow with Hazel (Corylus avellana), Willow (Salix spp.), Alder (Alnus glutinosa) and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior).

Species-rich hedgerow with Hazel (Corylus avellana), Willow (Salix spp.), Alder (Alnus glutinosa) and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior).

Freshwater stream supporting aquatic plants and animals

Freshwater stream supporting aquatic plants and animals

Dry stone wall

Dry stone wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Caroline Sullivan

2 thoughts on “A snapshot of farms in north County Leitrim

  1. Pingback: Purging Flax | Find Me A Cure

  2. Pingback: Summer 2014 fieldwork | Mapping High Nature Value farmland in Ireland

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