Some 52% of tillage farmers expect to lose some of their rented land for the 2024 season, according to an Irish Farmers Journal survey.

A total of 39% of respondents said that they lost land in 2023 and 76% of those said that they lost land to dairy farmers.

The survey was carried out over the past week, following the announcement that the nitrates derogation limit is to be reduced from 250kg organic N/ha to 220kg/ha from 1 January.

Some 16% of those surveyed said they had already lost land ahead of the winter planting season, while another 16% said they expect to lose land before planting winter crops.

Almost 80% of those surveyed rent land for tillage farming.

Of this land, 62% of is being leased under long-term leases and 38% is under conacre arrangements.

Of the 52% who said that they will lose rented land, 82% said that they cannot meet the prices being paid, while the remainder said that the land was no longer being rented out.

Some 48% of those surveyed said the maximum amount that they can pay for land rental is between €200/ac and €250/ac (Figure 3).

Tillage farmers commented in the survey that 2023 has been a particularly tough year with high input prices and reduced grain prices.

Scheme detail needed

Interestingly, 70% of those surveyed said that having details of the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS) and its payment rates ahead of the planting season would help them to secure land.

Although farmers did note that if they need to secure land that is already in tillage the TIS does not make a difference to them and that it is actually having a negative impact on them.

Respondents were critical of the scheme.

Some called it a “reseeding” scheme, while others called for a flat-rate payment for tillage as well as the ring-fencing of the tillage area and equality under TAMS.

Survey details

In total, 157 respondents took part in the survey. Some 56% were specialist tillage farmers, 31% were mixed tillage with beef/sheep and 13% were mixed tillage with beef and/or dairy.

There was a massive spread in the area farmed. A total of 18% had less than 50ha, 16% had 50ha to 80ha, while 16% had over 250ha (Figure 1).


The new nitrates derogation rules are severely impacting tillage area by placing extra demand on rented land and driving up land rental prices.

They are making the Government’s plan to increase tillage area by 52,000ha by 2030 and the Minister for Agriculture’s aim to make Ireland less reliant on feed imports impossible.