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ARCZero Farmers


This farmer-led innovation project is chaired by John Gilliland.


Alongside his farm, six other commercial farms are joined by industry and science partners AgriSearch, Devenish, Queens University Belfast and Birnie Consultancy, to make up the project’s membership.

Read the farmer bios below to find out more.

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Dr. John Gilliland


John is the project lead and also the chairman of the ARCZero operational group. He is a partner at Brook Hall farming estate, located in Londonderry, where short rotation willow coppice to create renewable fuel for the local renewable heat market have replaced cereals and oil seed rape on the land. Beyond the farm duties, John is also the Director of Global Agriculture and Sustainability at Devenish, an innovative livestock nutrition company.

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Hugh Harbison


Hugh farms in partnership with his wife and father near Aghadowey, County Londonderry.  They have 180 dairy cows (New Zealand and British Friesian) and operate a compact autumn calving system across 100-hectares. Hugh is also involved in the GrassCheck programme and has seen milk yields from forage increase by 500L per cow by analysing and monitoring grass growth and quality on a weekly basis.

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Roger and Hilary Bell


The Bell's have a combination of 500 lowland and upland ewes on a rotational grazing system in Kells, County Antrim. They also have a herd of 70 beef cattle for finishing on their 78-hectare farm, where they operate a rotational and strip grazing system. The day-to-day running of the farm is largely managed by Hilary while Roger is off-farm with his contracting business. Over a 15-year period the grassland on the farm has been drained, reclaimed and re-seeded to improve grass quality. The Bell family record the liveweight gain of all animals on the farm, benchmark every year, operate a veterinary herd/flock health plan and perform soil sampling on the farm annually, using recorded data to make informed management decisions.

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John Egerton


John Egerton, with his wife and sons, run a suckler enterprise on Lisnavoe Farm, where they have a herd 90 Simmental, Limousin and Saler cows on an autumn-spring calving system, with all progeny either finished through to beef or reared as replacement heifers.  In addition to this, John also has a flock of 200 ewes and runs a Blade calf-rearing unit of 500 calves in partnership with ABP. John has been measuring grass growth on his 78-hectare farm in Fermanagh for several years as a management tool to maximise performance from grass.  His skills have seen him receiving an award for the Ulster Grassland Farmer of the Year, 2018 as well as being the runner up in the British Grassland Farmer of the year competition.

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Ian McClelland


Ian McClelland from Creevy House Farm in Banbridge, has 90 Holstein-Friesian cows on a grass-based high yielding and autumn calving system. In 2015, Ian converted what was previously a beef and youngstock farm into the successful dairy enterprise that it is today. Ian pays close attention to grass utilisation and management, monitoring grass growth and as part of the GrassCheck programme by AFBI and AgriSearch to enhance his milk produced from forage. He is also regularly benchmarking with CAFRE to monitor on-farm performance.

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Simon Best


Simon farms in Acton House Farm, Poyntzpass, County Armagh with his father John and brother Rory, where they have 1200-acres of predominantly arable land, as well as an Aberdeen Angus herd and green waste composting facility. The Best family understand the importance of environmental standards and Simon and his family have been involved in agri-environment schemes for over 20-years, increasing hedgerows, planting trees, managing soil health and water quality on the farm. A member of both a CAFRE Arable and an Environment Business Development Group, Simon and is also a member of the Nature Friendly Farming Network NI Steering Group.

Patrick Casement


Patrick is the vice-chairman of the operational group. He farms in Ballycastle and has ground out on conacre.  Patrick is an ecologist with long experience of practical nature and landscape conservation, planning and the natural environment, and environmental and regulation. He has a particular interest in the interface between agriculture and the environment.  Patrick is Chair on the Northern Ireland Environment Link.

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