Ireland’s tillage area could fall by at least 20,000ha this year, compared to 2023, figures from the seed trade and wider industry suggest.

The industry has suggested that the decline could even reach 30,000ha.

Wet weather and grain prices are big factors in this decline, as farmers are reportedly slow to order seed and commit to planting spring crops.

Green grain prices for harvest are currently at around €185/t for feed wheat and €175/t for feed barley.

Land rental continues to be a huge issue for the sector, as farmers cannot compete in the highly competitive land rental market, which continues to be driven by dairy farmers hit by the nitrates derogation stocking rate limit.

The predicted drop comes while the Government has a Climate Action Plan target to increase the area of tillage by over 50,000ha to 400,000ha by 2030, and in a year when new entries to the Tillage Incentive Scheme were stopped.

Tillage farmers aired their frustrations at regulations and lack of action and funding at IFA grain meetings in counties Cork and Laois this week.

Tillage report

The Food Vision tillage report is due to be handed to the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue on 15 March.

The group charged with contributing to the document was to make final submissions by Wednesday, 28 February, and it will meet on 6 March to finalise the report.

The Irish Farmers Journalunderstands that a number of calls have been made for immediate actions to help to maintain the tillage sector, which include a €500/ha tillage expansion and sustainability scheme payment.

The group said that targets to increase organic and forestry areas are being encouraged through payment, and that the tillage sector also needs that support.