Acorn Group CEO Barry Larkin believes there is a significant opportunity to grow Ireland’s tillage sector by producing grain for different sectors.

Speaking on the most recent Tillage Edge podcast, he said that more could be done to produce grain for use in the dairy and beef sectors.

He also highlighted the possibility that exists to develop a milling sector in Ireland.

While Ireland remains slightly behind the curve when it comes to the utilisation of technologies such as GPS-based systems, the Acorn representative hinted that these circumstances might change, if the size of the arable area were to be increased.

Larkin specifically referenced the possibilities that now exist to develop very rewarding careers within the crops sector.

He said: “If five good candidates were to approach me today, I would have no difficulty finding jobs for them.

“There is a shortage of agronomists out there at the moment. People with these skills and qualifications are required right across the arable landscape.

“People with the ability to walk crops and advise growers accordingly are very much in demand at the present time,” he explained.

Working in the grain industry

The Acorn representative reflected on the fact that recent years have seen more and more people going into the dairy sector, adding: “As a result, fewer people have looked a crop production as a career pathway.

“Overall, more people are looking at agriculture, in terms of their future. This fact is borne out by recent student numbers. However, we are seeing a fall-off in the number of students wanting to specialise in tillage.”

According to Larkin, it’s a flexible job role to be an agronomist, adding: “Yes, these people will be very busy for certain periods of the year. But there are quiet times, as well as busy times.”

The age profile of people working in the dairy industry is much lower than is the case for tillage.

“But I would encourage anybody, who is seeking to develop a career within production agriculture to look very seriously at the opportunities that can be secured with the tillage industry,” Larkin said.

“The work is extremely interesting and there will be lots of opportunity moving forward.

“A changing of the guard will be at the heart of this. Many working in the tillage sector are now looking forward to retirement. So we need young people with the right qualifications and motivation coming in behind them. But they are very scarce at the moment.”