Gross investment on Irish farms increased by 36% in 2021 to over €1.39bn, according to the findings of Teagasc’s national farm survey (NFS).

Dairy farms accounted for half of the overall investment, with the total spend per farm averaging €45,160. Investment on tillage holdings also increased substantially in 2021, to an average of €25,714 per farm.

Similarly, drystock farms recorded a higher level of investment in 2021. However, on average, the level of spend on beef and sheep farms was far below that of the average dairy and tillage units.

The average level of investment on beef finishing units was €8,419. Investment on the average suckler farm was €5,939.

Meanwhile, investment on sheep farms reached €8,156, on average.

In line with increased investment, average farm-related debt rose to €69,284 in 2021, mainly driven by increased borrowings on dairy and tillage farms.

However, just 37% of farms have business borrowings, with the remaining 63% being debt-free. Loan levels also vary considerably by farm enterprise.

Almost two-thirds (66%) of dairy farms carried borrowings in 2021, with the average debt totalling almost €137,000.

The average borrowings for the 47% of tillage farms with debt was €56,000. Debt on suckler farms averaged €28,000; with 27% having borrowings. A quarter of beef finishers had borrowings last year, with the average loan totalling €38,000.

Meanwhile, 38% of sheep holdings had farm-related loans in 2021, with borrowings averaging €20,400.