Tillage farm margins have dropped significantly year on year, according to the director of Teagasc.
Professor Frank O’Mara said the tillage sector has experienced a contrast in fortunes this year compared to 2022.
Speaking at the Teagasc Crops Forum event today (Friday, September 8) Prof. O’Mara said that pressures had developed from all directions, where the growing of crops are concerned, over the past 12 months.
He also highlighted the many challenges that had faced tillage farmers throughout the 2022/23 growing season.
Prof. O’Mara said: “We have experienced both hot dry periods and very wet spells over recent months. The problem was that all of these weather trends were impacting on crops at the wrong times.
“The result has been a fall-off in both grain yields, across the board. We have also seen a reduction in the area of crops grown this year.
“The end result will be a significant reduction in Ireland’s total grain output this year.”
The director of Teagasc also indicated that many late grown spring cereal crops will not cover costs in 2023.
He outlined that a drop in grain prices over the past 12 months, in tandem with the continuing increase in crop growing costs will have a very significant and negative impact on cereal crop margins in 2023.
“But there are other challenges impacting on the tillage sector, particularly from an environmental perspective.
“A case in point is the recent change to the nitrates regulations, confirmed by the European Commission. This will put more pressure on tillage farmers to secure the land they on which to grow crops,” Prof. O’Mara added.
However he also believes that it is not all bad news from an Irish tillage perspective.
“We know that tillage farming has by far the lowest carbon footprint within Irish agriculture.
“The attainment of a carbon net zero scenario is already within the grasp of farmers committed to growing crops,” Prof. O’Mara said.
He also underlined at Crops Forum event today that Teagasc remains committed to the tillage sector from both a research and advisory perspective.
“The Food Vision Tillage Group has been established by the Minister for Agriculture to drive the tillage sector’s response to climate change.
“There is also a commitment at government level to grow the size of Ireland’s sector to 400,000ha,” Prof. O’Mara added.
He said that a provisional report from the Food Tillage Vision Group is due to be completed and a final report is expected at some stage in October.
The Teagasc director has also urged farmers “to feed in to the work” of the group.