Meet the Farmers

Irish Dairy to Dung Beetles with Bruce Thompson

Today Ben is heading across the Irish Sea to speak to Irish dairy farmer Bruce Thompson who milks 300 cows at the foot of the Slieve Blooms in the heart of the island of Ireland. Over time the farm has shifted towards dairy but it used to be more of a mixed farm with sheep, beef and dairy enterprises. Bruce has always worked in agriculture although he has a diploma in automobile engineering and is currently studying for a diploma in sustainability. He’s probably best known in regen ag circles in the UK for his role in the dung beetles for farmers project along with Sally Ann Spence and Claire Whittle. This was the subject for his Nuffield scholarship in 2020 titled “Anthelmintic resistance control measures incorporating pastoral management and dung beetles to increase biodiversity?” 

About Ben

Ben Eagle is the founder and Head of Podcasts at RuralPod Media, a specialist rural podcast production agency. He is also a freelance rural affairs and agricultural journalist. You can find out more at or 

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A-Plan Rural Insurance

This episode is sponsored by our primary sponsor A Plan Rural


Show References

Start with why  – Simon Sinek.

The Dairy Edge from Teagasc. 

Image credit: Bruce Thompson (Dung Beetles for Farmers)



00:27 Ben introduces the show.

1:29 Adam comes in.

2:06 What are Irish farmers talking about at the moment? 

4:06 The Slieve Blooms

4:53 Off the tourist circuit. 

5:26 Spring calving system – about Bruce’s herd.

6:36 How the business has changed over time. 

8:08 How has Bruce shifted towards managing a team and moving away from the traditional family structure. 

10:45 The issue of labour everyone is talking about it. 

12:15 Are we putting people off farming by speaking it down. 

13:26 Did Bruce always want to farm?

14:53 Sponsor message for A Plan Rural Insurance.

15:38 Nuffield and dung beetles.

17:55 Travelling in south Australia and Tasmania before Covid hit and Bruce had to cut his Nuffield travels short.

20:00 People management skills were the biggest asset of businesses. 

20:58 Bruce’s Nuffield had an impact on the whole team on the farm. 

21:52 Sponsor message for A Plan Rural Insurance.

22:17 Challenges – barriers to embracing technology and innovation in relation to climate change. 

27:10 Reach out to Ben with your experiences. 

27:45 What does a sustainable farm look like? 

30:00 State of soil. 

31:31 Getting younger people into the industry in Ireland. 

34:48 Bruce’s message to the public. 

35:21 Bruce’s message for farmers. 

35:48 Recommendation for podcast – The Dairy Edge. – Teagasc. Also ‘Start with why’ by Simon Sinek. 

37:00 Ben rounds up. 

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