Tillage production is limited to about 7% of the agricultural land base in Ireland, according to a new report published today (Tuesday, April 23) by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and Teagasc.

The ‘Annual Agricultural Land Market Review & Outlook 2024’ highlighted that limited tillage land is most commonly found in mid and south Leinster and east Munster.

Compared to other sectors, dairy farms utilise about one-quarter of the grassland area in Ireland, with beef farms using more, and sheep farms utilising about 11% of agricultural land.

Among all of the main farming systems in Ireland, the report stated that the tillage sector “appears to be facing” the most difficult short-term outlook in 2024.

“The prolonged winter and the exceptionally heavy rainfall in recent months has had an extremely significant impact on the planting of winter and spring crops, with consequences for the total planted area available for harvesting,” the review stated.

Tillage production

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that a decrease in international maize production at 4% occurred in 2023, with some increase in wheat production at about 1%.

There was then a decrease in global demand for cereals, which led to declines in global cereal prices.

This contributed to a decrease in Irish cereal prices during harvest 2023.

The 2023 Teagasc Harvest Report includes an estimated 6.4% decrease in the total area devoted to cereal production in Ireland in the 2022/23 crop year compared to the 2021/22 crop year.

Global wheat prices decreased by approximately 21% in 2023 relative to 2022, according to the World Bank.

Harvest prices in the cereals sector in Ireland were approximately 30% lower in 2023 relative to 2022.

Yields for some of the major Irish cereal crops, excluding winter barley were also lower than those achieved at harvest 2022.

Gross output on tillage farms was therefore substantially lower in 2023 relative to 2022, according to the review.

It stated that there remains “a high degree of uncertainty” about cereal markets in 2024, with negative consequences for the total planted area available for harvesting and for expected crop yields.

Meanwhile, there is also an estimated increase for global wheat production during 2024.


Direct costs of production in the tillage sector decreased by 5% in 2023 compared to 2022, according to the new findings.

The net effect of the changes in output value and input costs was a significant decrease in the average gross and net margin for cereal crops in 2023.

The average net margin per hectare on cereal enterprises decreased from €785/ha to €115/ha.

The decline in fertiliser prices and the decline in fertiliser volume helped to support further reductions in input costs.