We are thrilled to introduce the CAFRE Equine Centre, Enniskillen as first-time participants to Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend. This renowned centre provides the widest range of courses in Equine Studies in Ireland. Their aim is to assist the development of a competitive equine industry and give students an insight into the many different local and international equine related opportunities available.
Staff on this stunning site are looking forward to welcoming visitors to share their story and achievements with their Equine breeding unit, links with RSPB, Environmental Farming Scheme and college/course development.
CAFRE EQUINE BIODIVERSITY
Welcome to the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Enniskillen Campus. The Campus is home to CAFREs equine facilities and in recent years a range of agri environment enhancements have been undertaken on the farm to protect and enhance the natural environment.
Drumgay Lough nestles along the eastern side of the Campus. Along the shore of this Lough grows an area of wet woodland and reedbeds. This environment supports invertebrates, bats and breeding birds, including willow warblers and reed buntings. The plants growing in this area are pollen and nectar sources for pollinating insects, including bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths. The woodland and reedbeds provide a buffer between the agricultural land and the water, helping to protect the water from any run-off.
Native trees have been planted on some grazing fields next to Drumgay Lough. These are fenced off from grazing animals to create a riparian buffer which helps to protect water from any potential farm pollution. The trees also sequester carbon from the air, helping to reduce the carbon footprint. The Campus has a number of areas of woodland which contain native species of trees.
The Campus is also home to a hay meadow restoration project which commenced in 2015 in partnership with Ulster Wildlife. The grass was cut from a local species rich hay meadow and spread over the field at the Campus. As the grass dried, the seeds of wildflowers and grasses were dispersed over the field. Traditional hay meadows support a diverse range of grasses and wildflowers which benefit from low nutrient inputs. Typical species which you find in a hay meadow include Hay Rattle, Forget-me-not, Crested dogs-tail, Ragged robin, and wild orchids. The field receives no slurry or fertiliser and hay is made each summer in late July or early August.
There is a traditional orchard covering approximately 1.5 acres. The restoration of traditional orchards help to conserve local, rare and unusual varieties of traditional fruits. They also enhance the visual and historical value of the landscape. Orchards also provide a rich source of feed for pollinators. The orchard at CAFRE Enniskillen Campus has a range of Irish varieties of apples including Sovereign and Cavan Sugarcane. Pears including Black Worchester and John Wesley are also grown. The Fermanagh Beekeepers’ Association’s apiary is located next to the orchard, this works in harmony with CAFRE’s agri-environment facilities.
A small area of agroforestry has also been established at the Campus. This is where Native trees are planted at approximately 5 metre spacing & Livestock graze the vegetation under the trees. This provides shelter for grazing livestock
A field margin containing plants which specifically provide pollen and nectar has been planted. Pollen and nectar seed mix includes a range of vetches, clovers and other plants which are sown every four years. The plants are important as they increase the availability of essential food sources for nectar-feeding insects, including bumblebees and butterflies. They also benefit invertebrates, small mammals and farmland birds.
An area of winter feed crop for wild birds is planted each year.
Mixed native species hedgerows have been planted. The species include hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and holly. Over time these will grow to provide a traditional boundary benefiting Campus biodiversity, helping to sequester carbon and also providing shelter for grazing animals.