Sustainability is a word that has become overused and over-complicated, but it is something farmers and the agricultural industry strive to improve every day, whether consciously thinking about it or not.

Pricing fertiliser or any farm inputs is a step to improving economic sustainability.

Allowing heavy rain to pass before applying fertiliser improves both economic and environmental sustainability, while leaving a grass margin at the side of a field can provide a buffer zone beside waterways and a home for wildlife, acting on both the environmental and social pillars of sustainability.

Sustainability is effectively a term that can be used to describe good business practices.

In this focus, the Irish Farmers Journal will look at how farmers are making changes on their farms to improve all three pillars of sustainability.


Soil is the foundation for all agricultural activity and minding it is key to success.

As the year starts, it is important to test soil and form a plan for the year ahead, to improve soil indexes and soil health.


The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to reduce artificial fertiliser and pesticide use on farms by 20% and 50% respectively by 2030.

If this is to happen, certain approaches will need to change, but small changes can have a big impact.

In this focus, we meet farmers actively trying to improve their farming systems and meet those targets. Kenny Roberts in Co Kildare is targeting a reduction in nitrogen use on his soon to be 140-cow dairy farm using a combination of approaches, while John Gleeson in Co Cork is improving his crop yields and farm profit by bringing a forage crop into his tillage rotation and selling that feed to local dairy farmers.

John Kelleher and John Gleeson.

Little changes can make a big difference when it comes to making the farm business more sustainable.