Cover crop planting by customers of Cooney Furlong Grain is estimated to have doubled from 8,000ha in 2021 to 16,000ha in 2022.

Speaking at the launch of the KPMG-Irish Farmers Journal AgriBusiness report, Walter Furlong Jnr said the introduction of stubble cultivation rules under the new nitrates action programme contributed to this as farmers spread seed when they cultivated stubbles.

This was a positive result from a new rule as measurements on Furlong’s farm are showing massive increases in soil carbon levels, which can offset carbon emissions as well as taking up nutrients over winter and protecting soil and water quality.

However, Furlong added that as pesticides are banned and tools are lost from the system, risks increase in crop production.

He said losing tools in crop production creates massive issues, adding that where yields on winter barley can reach 5t/ac, this year virus saw farmers harvest 3t/ac.

It was the first year the real impact of a ban on neonicotinoids was noticed significantly. This makes land less productive.

The AgriBusiness report showed that 17% of the Republic of Ireland’s cereal ground is located within a 30km radius of Enniscorthy. Some 6,845 people are employed in agriculture in the region.

The report showed that Enniscorthy contributed €1,244m to national gross economic output through the direct, indirect and induced spending from the agri-food value chain.