The confirmed National Farm Survey figures for tillage indicate a drop of between €1,000 and €1,500 across all the top line categories, relative to the provisional estimates – issued back in June.

Teagasc published the final National Farm Survey statistics on day 2 of the National Ploughing Championships this week.

Approximately 6,246 tillage farms were represented in the survey of 2021, earning an average income of €57,939.

Tillage enterprises

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

This resulted in an increase in margins on the average tillage farm in 2021. Gross output increased by 44% to €159,129 on the average tillage farm in 2021.

Direct payments increased 4% on average, compared to 2020, with an increase in the Basic Payment amongst others.

Tillage farms also benefitted from the Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM) payment in 2021, with the participants receiving a payment of over €4,000, on average.

Overall, average costs increased on tillage farms last year by 31%, to reach €101,190. Direct costs increased by 29%, year-on-year, with an increase in fertiliser expenditure alone of 28% to €13,641.

Expenditure on crop protection also increased, by a similar magnitude, to €9,679 with purchased seed also up 29%, on average, to €5,425.

Expenditure on contracting charges increased by 22%, year-on-year, to €9,690 on average. In line with the other production systems, overhead costs increased in 2021; the average increase on tillage farms being 34% year-on-year.

The increase in machinery depreciation was 53% (€11,897) and machinery operating costs 40% (€11,507). Building depreciation more than doubled to €3,218.

In terms of some other overhead sub-components, conacre rental costs were up 31% in 2021 to €7,380 on average.

Expenditure relating to hired labour also declined by 9% to €3,352 following a similar increase in the previous year.

The average tillage farm area increased by 5% in 2021 to 68ha.

Of this, over half of the total land area (38ha) was dedicated to cereals, an increase of 19% compared to 2020.

The average tillage farm gross margin was €1,623/ha. This included a Basic Payment of €297.

The Teagasc figures also confirm that 14% of Irish tillage farmers earned a family farm income of more than €100,000.

A further 34% earned between €20,000 and €50,000, on average, in 2021.