According to the provisional results of the Teagasc National Farm Survey, tillage farm incomes averaged €58,995 in 2021.

A total of 6,246 growers were represented in the study.

Favourable weather conditions last year resulted in varying yield increases for the major crops. Cereal prices at harvest in 2021 were up on the 2020 level, boosted further by relatively low international stocks.

This resulted in an increase in margins on the average tillage farm in 2021.

Gross output increased by 47% to €161,829 on the average tillage farm last year. Direct payments increased 4% on average, compared to 2020 with an increase in the basic payment among others.

Tillage farms also benefitted from the Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM) payment in 2021 – the average farm payment here was in the region of €1,000.

Costs for tillage farms

Overall, average costs increased on tillage farms in 2021 by 33%, to reach €102,834.

Direct costs increased by 34%, year-on-year, with an increase in fertiliser expenditure alone of 32% to €14,066 on the average tillage farm.

Expenditure on crop protection also increased, by a similar magnitude, to €9,910 with purchased seed costs up 16%, on average, to €4,866.

Meanwhile, contracting charges increased by 43% year-on-year to €11,299 on average.

As many tillage farms also have a significant cattle enterprise, some will incur expenditure on purchased concentrates. Spending on concentrates decreased by 48% in 2021, to €6,057 on average.

In line with the other farm systems, overhead costs increased in 2021, the average increase on tillage farms being 33%, year-on-year.

The increase in machinery depreciation was 48% (€11,536) and machinery operating costs 38% (€11,238). Building depreciation more than doubled to €3,708.

In terms of some other overhead sub-components, conacre rental costs were up 47% in 2021 to €8,246 on average.

Expenditure relating to hired labour also declined by 32% to €2,513 following a similar increase in the previous year.

Average tillage farm size

Significantly, the average tillage farm area increased by 9% in 2021 up to 70ha. Of this, over half of the total land area (37ha) was dedicated to cereals, an increase of 13% compared to 2020.

The average tillage farm gross margin was €1,592/ha in 2021; this included a basic payment of €313.

The Family Farm Income (FFI) figures across the entire tillage spectrum for 2021 are worthy of note.

Significantly, they confirm that the proportion of businesses generating incomes in excess of €50,000 is up 10% year-on-year. Of these, 16% earned more than €100,000.

A further 31% of tillage farms earned between €20,000 and €50,000, on average, in 2021. The proportion of growers earning below €5,000 in 2021 was down dramatically to 6%, on average, down 8 percentage points.

Those earning between €5,000 and €10,000 was down 6%,  year-on-year. One-fifth of tillage farms reported an FFI of between €10,000 and €20,000 in 2021, slightly down on 2020.