The Rodgers’ farm is located in north County Dublin and the family’s commitment to sustainability can’t be questioned. They run one of the most efficient farms in the country as evidenced by their achievement in making the shortlist in Bord Bia’s Origin Green Farmer Awards.
The Origin Green Farmer Awards recognise and reward the exceptional performance being achieved by members of its Sustainable Quality Assurance schemes for beef, horticulture and dairy.
These schemes are pivotal to differentiating Irish food products in the global marketplace. Participating farms meet high standards around hygiene, farm safety, traceability, animal welfare, remedy use and commitment to their locality.
With the Origin Green programme, Ireland is the first country in the world to audit and carbon footprint its livestock farms, currently at a rate of 650 a week, under what is in effect a national programme and in the process provide measurement, feedback for continuous improvement to farmers.
The results represent a unique selling point for Irish food exports, proving that farmers are operating with due care for the surrounding environment, resulting in a low carbon footprint.
Speaking about the awards, Tara McCarthy, Chief Executive, Bord Bia said, “The farmers chosen as finalists for these awards are already regarded by the industry as being among the very best.
“Their commitment to sustainable production through the Origin Green programme and willingness to have their achievements judged by a panel of experts shows their ambition to be the best and to make the Irish food and drink industry a world leader.”
She added: “These are the farmers Bord Bia will be looking to when we are demonstrating to food buyers the solid foundations on which the Irish food and drink industry has been built and why it is sustainable into the future,” she added.
New to the awards programme in 2018, judging for the horticulture sector was completed by experts from Teagasc, University College Dublin and I.T. Blanchardstown.
The judges commended the positive attitude and clear understanding of the importance of farm sustainability demonstrated by the finalists
Each finalist exhibited an inherent understanding of the importance and relevance of implementing strategies to promote safe working systems for staff, increase energy efficiency, and to protecting and enhancing biodiversity and the environment on their farms through the use of modern technologies allied with well-established good agricultural practices.
The 39 beef, horticulture and dairy finalists represent the most efficient farmers in the country, producing what the market demands in a natural, sustainable manner.
The Rodgers family of Oldtown, Co Dublin were shortlisted in the Horticulture category. John, David and Joe Rodgers grow Rooster, Queens, Kerr’s Pink and onions across 100ha. The farm supports seven full-time and two part-time jobs. Last year, they invested in irrigation equipment during the summer.
Key sustainability measures implemented by the progressive family includes: native hawthorn hedging planted and areas left uncultivated for wildlife, nutrient management practices includes regular soil sampling and organic amendment to soil and precision use of inputs includes GPS guided sprayer equipment.
“Attention to detail,” is one of the key attributes that the family prides itself on according to David Rodgers. “Always doing a good job and leaving the country side looking well,” he added. “Anywhere we go, we keep hedges tidy and drain fields when needed. We like to run a tidy show. Workmanship and how the fields we farm look are very important to us.”
In addition, the family’s comprehensive fleet of tractors and associated machinery is maintained and updated on a regular basis. “We operate a lot of emission friendly tractors now,” David pointed out, “and it was a prestigious honour for us to be shortlisted for the awards.”
The Rodgers family is no stranger to award success. Back in 2006 they were named Potato Producer of the year while they added a National Horticulture Quality Award to the mantlepiece 12 months later.
“The family came to north Dublin in 1980,” David revealed. “We purchased 200 acres and built that up to 650 acres. Between our own land, rented and shared farming we grow Winter Barley (850 acres), Potatoes (250 acres), Onions (40 acres), Wheat (2,600 acres) and Maize (30 acres).”
The Rodgers have their own drying facility on-farm and dry all of their own grain and they supply Paul & Vincent, AW Ennis and JMW Farms. On the potato and onion front, their produce can be found on the shelves in Tesco via Country Crest while they also supply potatoes to Keoghs.
Consumers can rest safe in the knowledge that they are getting quality Irish produce in their shopping bags.
Rodgers Family Farm
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 1, February/March 2019