How much does it cost to break even on a tillage farm?

It might sound simple, in order to make a profit you need to keep costs to a minimum and increase yields. The reality is more difficult. Results from the recent Teagasc E-Profit Monitor for tillage showed average break-even costs, at average yields, across a total of 342 farms which inputted data to the programme.

The break-even costs are reported in €/t and are calculated from average yields and average crop sales (excluding income from straw).

Average crop yields:
  • Winter wheat – 10.6t/ha;
  • Winter barley – 9.3t/ha;
  • Spring feed barley – 7.8t/ha;
  • Spring malting barley – 7.8t/ha;
  • Spring wheat – 8.2t/ha;
  • Winter oats – 8.2t/ha;
  • Spring oats – 8.0t/ha;
  • Winter oilseed rape – 4.7t/ha;
  • Spring oilseed rape – 2.5t/ha;
  • Spring beans – 6.9t/ha;
  • Fodder beet – 78.5t/ha.

The break-even costs for all of the above crops are reported below. So, for example, in order to make a profit in 2017, winter wheat growers needed to earn more than €140/t.

Break-even costs:
  • Winter wheat – €140/t;
  • Winter barley – €144/t;
  • Spring feed barley – €146/t;
  • Spring malting barley – €138/t;
  • Spring wheat – €148/t;
  • Winter oats – €138/t;
  • Spring oats – €133/t;
  • Winter oilseed rape – €263/t;
  • Spring oilseed rape – €399/t;
  • Spring beans – €143/t;
  • Fodder beet – €24/t.

Top one third of growers

The top one third of growers achieved higher yields and a higher price per tonne. A big reduction in costs among these growers was due to a reduction in the use of a contractor in many cases.

Average crop yields for the top one third of growers:
  • Winter wheat – 11.2t/ha;
  • Winter barley – 9.5t/ha;
  • Spring feed barley – 8.3t/ha;
  • Spring malting barley – 8.1t/ha;
  • Spring wheat – 9.3t/ha;
  • Winter oats – 8.9t/ha;
  • Spring oats – 8.4t/ha;
  • Winter oilseed rape – 5.1t/ha;
  • Spring oilseed rape – 2.7t/ha;
  • Spring beans – 7.3t/ha;
  • Fodder beet – 82.4t/ha.

Average break-even costs for the top one third of growers:
  • Winter wheat – €134/t;
  • Winter barley – €136/t;
  • Spring feed barley – €131/t;
  • Spring malting barley – €129/t;
  • Spring wheat – €143/t;
  • Winter oats – €123/t;
  • Spring oats – €121/t;
  • Winter oilseed rape – €228/t;
  • Spring oilseed rape – €324/t;
  • Spring beans – €135/t;
  • Fodder beet – €23/t.

To view the full break-down of costs and returns click Text here