The Hobson family from Warrenstown, Co. Meath are one of the suppliers who have been supplying Newgrange Gold with Oilseed Rape & Camelina Seed over the past number of years. Jack caught up with David Hobson to discuss a bit about the family and their farm.
Tell us a bit about your farm and family
We are 4th generation farmers originally from Avoca, Co.Wicklow. Our family moved to Meath 13 years ago after purchasing the former Agricultural college Warrenstown. The family is now farming 350 ha across Warrenstown, Drumree and Tara. Our land borders the Hill of Tara which is steeped in rich neolithic history.
What made you want to get into farming?
Farming is a way of life which is instilled into you from a young age. My passion for agriculture comes from my father and late grandfather who have always strived to farm better, becoming more efficient through attention to detail.
You did an Ag Science degree in UCD. What was it like? How is the PHD going? What is it you’re researching?
I graduated from Animal and Crop Production in 2017. I made the most of my time there and got to travel while on professional work experience to Saskatchewan Canada and the UK. I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 years there. I was offered a PhD position in crop science and was only delighted to accept it and continue learning in what I was passionate about. I’m currently in my third year of trial work. My research is focused on improving soil management practices using less intensive methods. We are trying to promote lower intensity crop establishment systems which reduce carbon emissions and protect soil from erosion and soil compaction.
David Hobson & Jack Rogers
What crops do you grow as well as Oilseed Rape and Camelina Sativa?
Our main crops would be feed wheat, barley, milling oats for porridge, field beans and some malting barley. Our diverse rotation has really improved our land, cut back fertilisers and has added value to our business. We dry, clean and store all our grain and store for other merchants and farmers. Our stores are aerated during cold nights, ensuring that the quality of our grain is the same in December as it was in August during harvest. Grains are dried to a level which inhibits bacteria and fungal growths, keeping quality in check.
What is it you like best about farming and what you do?
Every year is different in farming. In farming, you pick up so many skills and using your own initiative is important. You have to be ‘a jack of all trades’ to be a good farmer. I enjoy the pressure of sowing, harvest and following crops throughout their growth cycles, giving them every chance to perform. It’s hard to beat walking the land to the sound of the birds in Spring and the bees pollinating the rich nectar from Oilseed Rape, Beans and Camelina in the summer months.
Tell me about how you produce such high quality Oilseed Rape?
As clique as it sounds, the care of soil comes first for everything we do. Healthy soils give rise to healthy crops and food. We spend the Winter months making compost from farm yard manure and mushroom compost. This provides a rich balance of natural nutrients and feed for the soil biology. It is the process of natural fertilisers that allow soils to remain healthy and productive. It has allowed us to cut back on chemical fertilisers.
How do you think tillage farmers can help with climate change?
Tillage farming is by far the lowest emitter of carbon emissions in the agricultural sector. Tillage farming produces 4x lower GHG (Green House Gases) than the average dairy farm on average. Plants absorb CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) from the atmosphere in exchange for O2 (Oxygen) during photosynthesis. That carbon is exuded through the roots and stored in soil. Currently our farm would be a carbon sink. Our diverse rotation lends itself to growing crops with deep roots such as oilseed rape and beans. We use conservation tillage techniques by keeping plants growing in the soil for most of the year, reducing tillage and diesel consumption. The farm is increasing its carbon storage in soil by up to 700 kg per hectare per year, increasing soil organic matter and fertility for the next generation of farmers.