The average price paid for agricultural land in NI has moved up in 2020 to its second highest point on record, the Irish Farmers Journal can reveal.

Across last year land sales averaged £10,045/ac in NI, which represents an increase of £89/ac on the year previous. It is only the second time that the average price has passed the £10,000/ac mark.

In 2018, land prices hit a record high of £10,182/ac, but the average reduced by £226/ac the year after.

The new figures come from our annual survey of land sales which covered 158 transactions across 5,024 acres during 2020.

The strong market is being underpinned by a tight supply of land coming up for sale. Our records show that 11,811 acres were publicly advertised for sale in NI last year, which is down 12% on 2019 levels and is 27% lower than 2018.

However, despite the average price remaining relatively steady, our figures show that the prices paid for good and average quality land is rising, but demand for poorer land is declining.

The bottom 25% of land sales in NI averaged £5,927/ac last year, which represents a fall of £608/ac on 2019 levels. By contrast, the average across the top 25% sale prices is almost unchanged and stood at £14,460/ac during 2020.

When broken down by county, Armagh continues to have the highest land prices in NI, with its average jumping by 9.5% last year to £13,914/ac. In Down, the average land price reduced by 1.1% to £11,246/ac and it rose by 7.3% in Antrim to £10,578/ac.

Land prices eased back by 3.7% and 3.9% in Tyrone and Derry last year to average £10,210/ac and £8,015/ac respectively. In Fermanagh, land averaged £5,776/ac, down 27% on 2019 levels.

The outlined figures are for land which can be described as arable, cuttable for silage or good quality grazing.

A separate survey of hill ground and rough grazing found that prices averaged £2,895/ac last year. Prices for blanket bog and rougher mountain ground remain closer to the £1,000/ac mark.