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Trees and Hedges in Ballyhaise College


Teagasc Ballyhaise Agriculture College is an Ulster plantation estate dating back to the 1600’s with beautiful trees and woodland. Demonstration of skills in hedgerow management & new hedgerow establishment shows students how to incorporate such skills into their own farms Teagasc staff have details

Catherine Keena Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist, Kevin O’Connell, Teagasc Forestry Advisor and John Kelly, Principal Teagasc Ballyhaise College outline the importance of trees and hedges at Ballyhaise College.

Teagasc Ballyhaise Agriculture College in County Cavan is an Ulster plantation estate dating back to the 1600’s with beautiful trees and woodland on 153 hectares with 46 hectares of this is covered in trees. Over 20 kms of hedges and over 10 ha of watercourses. The river Annalee flows through the farm, on its way to Ballyshannon in County Donegal. This is a marvellous resource to build into the land based programmes in Agriculture (Drystock, Dairying, Mechanisation, Pigs and Poultry) as well as Forestry. Environmental sustainability which includes biodiversity is very important on the farm and is built into all programmes in the college. The habitats including hedges are used to demonstrate best management practice. Demonstration of skills in hedgerow management and new hedgerow establishment shows students how easy it to incorporate such skills into their own farms and have habitats similar to those here in Ballyhaise College.

One key landscape feature on the farm is the integration of habitats as hedges, watercourses and grassy field margins link with the small woodland, allowing wildlife move freely through the farm through these corridors or networks for nature. The patchwork of woodland, hedges and field corners creates a stunning landscape, particularly the display of autumnal colours.

The land under trees includes conifer forestry and broadleaf woodland ranging in age from one year to 150 years. It is managed in Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF), which means it is never clearfelled, so a proportion of growing trees are always retained when harvesting. Field corners which are of limited agricultural value are planted with trees and all contribute to biodiversity.

Hedges include really old boundaries as well as many new hedges planted over recent years. Some newly planted hedges are cut well back to thicken up and become stockproof with the intention of removing the adjoining electric fence, making it easier for hedge cutting. Others which are not primarily intended to be stockproof are left grow up and ‘escape’ from topping, producing fruit and berries which are of great benefit to wildlife. For safety reasons, some roadside hedges are topped to allow a line of sight. While safety always comes first, allowing at least one whitethorn tree grow up in every roadside hedge is usually possible. A blackthorn hedge coppiced fifteen years ago has since been breasted or side trimmed annually.

Whitethorn (hawthorn)

Whitethorn (hawthorn) is the predominant species planted with mixtures of guelder rose, spindle, hazel and holly. Scattered through the hedges wild cherry trees have been planted which will produce valuable timber to make furniture. A notable species in the hedges that is being preserved is the wych elm which has not been affected by Dutch elm disease. There are ungrazed areas where alder has self-seeded and young oak trees have also appeared.

A bare landscape misses out on the many benefits of trees and hedges bring to a farm - shelter, biodiversity, micro-climate, carbon sequestration and visual landscape.  See here for more information on Teagasc Agricultural  College Ballyhaise https://www.teagasc.ie/education/teagasc-colleges/ballyhaise

 To see all of the activity of Hedgerow Week follow this link https://www.teagasc.ie/environment/biodiversity--countryside/farmland-habitats/hedgerows/