A farmer experience - cutting his own hedges
Tony Mullins farming with his wife Noelle on dairy farm in Ballybeg, Mitchelstown in Co Cork, has always had a keen interest in managing own hedges. He met with Catherine Keena and Francis Quigley, Teagasc to discuss his hedge management practices and how he has changed hedge cutting height
(Photo above: Dairy farmer Tony Mullins Ballybeg, Mitchelstown, Co Cork cuts his own hedges)
Untopped escaped hedges on the farm are side trimmed every 2-3years. If any overhanging branches become a nuisance, a circular saw is brought in to lop them off. There are topped hedges on the farm which are trimmed annually, especially roadside hedges, which Tony admits would have clipped down a bit lower in the past. They have increased the height to 8-9 feet which provides a good boundary, useful from a security point of view. Tony is very strict not to cut down too low when hedge cutting and is very critical where operators do this, saying ‘You’d see hedges cut basically down to the earth where there is no vegetation growing and there’s nothing ever going to grow there if it isn’t given a chance’.
In the past Tony left up large native hardwoods like the oak and ash – wherever they grew in the hedges. Recently he has started letting up whitethorns. It’s one of the terms of the Nitrates Derogation to leave up a thorn every 300m or so. Some farmers think tall hedges affect grass growth, but Tony’s experience is that hedges help grass growth. They break a harsh wind in the spring.
The shelter effect of a tree is multiplied many times out the field. On southerly facing hedges, there is a sheltering effect where they are high. Animals like that for shade particularly in the high summer when they’ll go there to shelter from the sun.
To see all of the activity of Hedgerow Week follow this link https://www.teagasc.ie/environment/biodiversity--countryside/farmland-habitats/hedgerows/