Ireland has 4th highest land rental costs in Europe

Ireland has the fourth highest average land rental costs in Europe; coming after the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria.

This finding – from Eurostat – was published in a report by Tillage Industry Ireland – an Economic Impact Assessment of the Tillage Sector in Ireland.

The report was published this week and was prepared by Prof. Michael Wallace of University College Dublin (UCD).

According to the report, these high land rental costs “inhibit farm expansion and reduce the scope for tillage farmers to spread increasing machinery and labour overheads over larger acreages”.

The report also detailed some interesting facts outlined below.

Tillage farm numbers in decline

The report outlined that there was a decline of 27% in the number of farms with tillage from 2005 to 2016.

Out of a total of 9,700 farms with tillage in 2016, 4,700 were specialist enterprises; 2,100 were mixed crops and livestock farms and 2,900 had tillage as a minor enterprise on the farm.

This represents a decrease in the number of farms with tillage of 2% in specialist tillage farms; a 40% decrease in mixed crops and livestock farms and a 41% decrease in farms with tillage as a minor enterprise – an overall decrease of 27% in the number of farms with tillage.

In 2005, 9.9% of all farm holdings had a tillage enterprise on the farm. In 2016, this figure was 7.5%.

Decline in tillage area

The report also showed that from 1980 to 2018, the area of tillage crops grown nationally declined by 230,000ha or 42%. In 2018, tillage represented 7.1% of the overall utilised agricultural area.

The main areas of decline were in the west, south-west and south of the country.

On a positive note, AgriLand has reported that the tillage area increased in 2019 by 2% (5,100ha) and increased slightly in 2020 (preliminary figures).

Potato area decline

Another interesting point from the report is that the area of potatoes has dropped steadily over the years.

Some 40 years ago, in 1980, the potato area was at approximately 42,000ha. In 2018, the area under potatoes was 7,100ha.

In 1980, there were approximately 12,000 potato growers. There are now just 2,000 growers in the country according to the report.

The potato area increased to approximately 8,000ha in 2019 and remained at the same level in 2020.

Employment in tillage

The report also showed that employment in the tillage sector accounts for almost 11,000 full-time equivalents.

7,450 people are estimated to be employed directly, while 3,400 are estimated to be employed indirectly. This equates to the employment of 11.7 direct employees and 5.3 indirect employees per €1 million of tillage output.

These employees are spread across the industry from contractors and mechanics to agronomists and advisors to merchants, hauliers and seed assemblers to name but a few.