There were few leaks on Budget 2023 at this week’s National Ploughing Championships, but one announcement that Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue did choose to disclose was that the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS) is set to continue.

It was announced that €10m will be supplied for the scheme in the Budget this week.

It was an appropriate location for the announcement, in the middle of a vast area of stubble fields in Ratheniska, Co Laois, but the timing was also on point, as farmers are currently making winter planting decisions.

As hard as land is to come by, the announcement might aid farmers in decisions for spring and winter cropping and allow them to enter the competitive market.


The scheme will continue to pay €400/ha for land to enter into tillage production from grassland, but, more importantly, will pay farmers €200/ha to keep land in tillage which was converted from grassland last season.

The scheme has been criticised. Some called it a reseeding scheme for livestock farmers, as crops were under-sown with grass, and others outlined the difficulty specialist tillage farmers have in accessing grassland to convert.

This may also become more difficult as nitrates rules tighten on dairy farmers.

2023 will be challenging

Huge challenges lie ahead for tillage farmers in 2023 and many are cautious about planting winter crops. Grain price is volatile and it will be difficult to secure and pay for fertiliser for the 2023 season.

Support will be needed to aid tillage farmers to keep farms operational and sustainable.

Maybe something similar to the silage scheme for livestock farmers is needed. This indeed was a suggestion by the National Fodder and Food Security Committee. Vegetable and potato growers face huge energy costs.

TIS should be welcomed

However, we must take the positives coming from Government on tillage at present. It has taken a long time, but the need for tillage in this country is now recognised.

Tillage farming can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and help to meet the 25% reduction target.

Soil carbon levels are generally low and the Straw Incorporation Measure, catch crops and work between sectors to exchange organic manures can all help to store more carbon in our soils and offset emissions.

Teagasc places the carbon dioxide equivalents from tillage land at about 1.18t/ha, about four times lower than beef and eight times lower than dairy.

We are not food secure in this country. We do not produce milling wheat and potato and vegetable growers are leaving their sectors.

Schemes such as the TIS can only help and should be welcomed. Support for specialist tillage farmers is still needed, but as the value of tillage is brought to the forefront once again, it will have to come.