The new Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) Reform will usher in huge changes for tillage farmers, according to Teagasc director Gerry Boyle who opened the National Tillage Conference, in Kilkenny last week.

He said: “It is going to take a lot of familiarisation from tillage farmers in the next year or so in relation to sorting out land, crops and entitlements generally.”

He added: “The CAP Reform will also have implications for tillage farmers in regard to the greening rules including crop diversification, ecological areas concept and the whole area of permanent grassland.

“I want to emphasise here that Teagasc’s job is to support tillage farmers through discussion groups and otherwise in ensuring that the best advice is available to you in what will be significant challenges in regard to these regulations.”

Boyle said the Rural Development Programme (RDP) announcements were very positive for the tillage sector. “There was a significant amount of additional monies over and above what would have been expected a short few months ago and that’s a positive thing,” he said.

“There is a great opportunity under the RDP to put in place a support measure to drive on efficiency in the sector. That is one of the key points we will be making in our response and submissions on the RDP. There are number of opportunities in the RDP that could be tailored in a creative way to the benefit of tillage producers.”

Boyle stressed: “We must focus on driving profitability from productivity … that is key phrase from us.”

“There is plenty of evidence out there of opportunities to drive on productivity irrespective of the price of inputs and the price received for your products,” he noted.

“It is very evident from the BETTER farm programme that there is no silver bullet here. That’s not just true for tillage it is a combination of small changes that can enhance profitability.”

He commented that key elements including soil sampling and nutrient management planning are especially important. “It doesn’t take a huge amount on the part of a tillage farmer to get involved in those activities and to utilise scare resources better and get more outputs from fewer inputs,” he cited.

Looking forward Boyle said: “It continues to be my view that the medium-term view is that the demand for grain is going to continue to increase. Underpinned by population growth, underpinned by an increased demand for protein consumption. In the longer term that has to mean an increase in prices.”

Crop Margins and Returns 2014

Teagasc also recently released their crop margins and returns figures for 2014. According to Tim O’Donavan of Teagasc with CAP Reform just about to kick off an awareness of crop margins is vitally important irrespective of what crop is grown. Moreover, he said it makes no sense to produce the crop at a loss.

O’Donavan noted that the figures, which are available on the Teagasc website help a grower to take the Teagasc figures and use them as a comparison with their own.

Teagasc has also developed a handy calculator which makes this task very easy and is free to use on the its website.