Welcome to Talamh Beo

Laharn Dairy Farm

EIP Soil Biodiversity Project Participant


Gerard Buckley


Coachford, County Cork

Water Catchment Area:

River Lee

Land Use:

Commercial Dairy, Ponds, Hedges, Trees & Permaculture

Laharn Dairy Farm

Ger’s large dairy farm is located in Coachford, County Cork and has been in the family for 100 years. Ger is the third generation of his family to work the land here between Coachford and Macroom. With the help of their herd manager, Vicky Kelleher, they currently milk 180 cows in a spring calving, grass-based system. They also rear approximately 80 replacement heifer calves and 80 in calf heifers. Some are brought into the dairy herd, and more are sold as breeding stock for other herds. You can see a gallery of images from Ger’s farm here.

When he is not tending to his herd, Ger can be found enjoying another of his passions – studying Permaculture. His course at Kinsale College is a science based course that will help in a practical way on his farm as Ger pushes towards a more sustainable way of working in nature. Always keen to expand his knowledge, in 2008 he was awarded a Nuffield scholarship in which he was given the opportunity to travel and study his chosen topic which was expansion in Dairying. This journey has taught him about the importance of sustainability in farming.

Ger also has a passion for border collies who are always at hand to help out on the farm. He also has an interest in restoring old houses using traditional materials and has restored some old cottages on the farm. Recently he has planted many native trees and hedges, built a pond, and planted mixed species grasses with high clover content. He is very happy with the results so far and feels that a lot more has to be learned, but he is excited that it is a very positive step in the right direction.

Ger joined the EIP project because of his love of nature; he would like to have a better understanding of soil biology. He would like to farm in a way that is more in harmony with nature – reducing the need for costly inputs like sprays and fertiliser that may be harmful to our environment and explore ways that may be more sustainable. The whole world is dependant on the top 6-inch layer of this planet for their food, nutrition, and shelter, but it has great potential to capture much of the carbon that has been released into the environment over many generations causing harm. It seems logical that we should try to learn more about it. He believes that we don’t need to do much to save the planet, we just need to learn how to stop doing harm. 

Ger introduces himself, his farm and his interest in the soil biodiversity project in this short clip.

Ger introduces himself, his farm and his interest in the soil biodiversity project in this short clip.

I'm a dairy farmer who loves trees! I'm  embracing change - hoping to learn more about soil and enhancing it, trying to find the balance of working with nature and running a business.

EIP Soil Diversity Project

Ger’s farm at Coachford consists of 100 acres of loamy soil. Loamy soil is composed of almost equal amounts of sand and silt with a little less clay. Generally speaking, loam is the ideal soil composition for most plants.

By participating in the EIP Soil Diversity Project, Ger has trialled and documented a range of technical innovations  (such as bioNutrient meters) and physical innovations (e.g. soil biological activators, mineral amendments, biochar, green manure, compost, compost teas, inoculants etc). As part of the project, Ger chose a 6-acre field which has been in mixed species since it was reseeded in 2020. The tons of Dry Matter produced in this field is similar to that in the control field, but it is produced with 30 kgs of Artificial N compared to 150kgs N on the control – five times less.  Ger wants to get a greater understanding of the biology that is providing the nutrients for plant growth in this field.

Ger’s progress through Dr Elaine Ingham’s Launch Your Lab (LYL) educational course and the results of his farm trials have been recorded in his farm report. At the end of the course, Ger will be trained and certified to look at soil microbes. This will enable him to carry out analysis for not only his own farm, but to act as a lighthouse farm to other individuals, farms and agri-businesses who can benefit from knowing what their soil needs to boost yields.

Ger’s farm walk took place on the 9th of September, 2022, and was a tour around his 180 cow dairy farm, looking at multispecies pastures & ponds, and included a compost tea experiment. View a video summary of Ger’s farm walk here.

You can check out Ger’s course certificate and find out more about his trial plot, experiment and baseline soil test results in his project report.

Project Report

Farm Walk

Ger's farm walk

Join Ger on his tour of Laharn Dairy farm, looking at his pastures, ponds and composting methods, and the real, monetary benefits of multispecies swards.

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