Teagasc has today (Friday, June 17) published reviews for each of the 12 Teagasc advisory regions, including Donegal/Sligo Leitrim; Mayo; and Galway/Clare.
The reviews give an overview of the range of the agricultural and farming sectors in each region.
The advice provided by Teagasc regional advisory staff is underpinned by four research programmes:
- Crops, Environment and Land Use;
- Rural Economy and Development;
- Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation.
It is expected that there will be a further 12% increase in expenditure costs in 2022 on Irish beef farms driven again by increased fertiliser, feed and fuel costs.
Beef prices are not expected to change significantly in 2022 due to current high global beef prices, a limit on EU imports due to high shipping costs and an overall drop in beef production within the EU.
According to the review, there are 16,973 farms in these three counties, with the average beef farm size being 27ha and the average age of farmers being 57-years-old.
The majority of enterprises are beef and sheep with 8,010 specialist beef producers and 5,600 specialist sheep producers.
There are 93,377 suckler cows on 8,485 farms in the region with an average of 11 cows/farm.
There are 5,600 specialist sheep producers according to the Census of Agriculture 2020 and 8,735 sheep flocks with over 1,113,429 sheep in total in the region.
Dairy farm numbers are low at 319 specialist dairy farmers and in total there are closer to 401 farms with dairy cows out of the 16,973 farms.
In terms of forestry, there was 11.4% forestry cover planted in Donegal 2020, equating to 40ha. In Leitrim, it was 8.9% forestry cover (160ha), while in Sligo the figure was 11.4% (106ha).
The Teagasc review states that the Census of Agriculture 2020 indicates that since the previous census of 2010, the number of farms in Mayo has fallen from 12,458 to 11,920, a decrease of 4.5%.
The most important enterprise is beef, according to the review, with 6,853 specialist beef producers.
Mayo has the second highest number of sheep of any county in the country with 2,883 specialised sheep producers with many farms having both drystock systems on farm.
Dairying is low at 266 specialist dairy farmers with an average herd size of 61.5 cows.
The average agricultural area in Mayo is 29ha and the average farmer age is 59-years-old.
There was 11.4% forestry cover in Mayo with 119ha planted in 2021.
The agricultural area of the Galway/Clare region is 605,000ha, commonage 66,800ha, rough grazing 78,500ha.
The Teagasc review states that there is a large variation in soil types in the region. There are significant areas of peat, rock, brown earths, and gleys.
In addition, there is geographical diversity in the region, from lowlands to mountain and large areas of commonage and rough grazing. This variation has resulted in vastly different farming practices in the region.
Land fragmentation is also a feature of farming in the region, with an average of 4.1 different parcels of owned land per farmer.
Weather, in particular rainfall, can have a big impact on farming in the region. 2021 was a normal weather year, with annual rainfall for the Shannon and Athenry Met Éireann stations below the long-term average.