Tillage farm incomes rise 18% in 2018

Tillage farmer income rose by 18% on average to €42,678 last year according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2018.

On average, tillage farms were the only ones to report an annual increase in family farm income last year, according to the document.

The National Farm Survey (NFS) 2018 was published today, Thursday, May 30, at a Teagasc event in the Davenport Hotel in Dublin city centre.

Approximately 6,879 tillage farms earned an average income of €42,678 in 2018. Although, harvest yields were down substantially due to the challenging weather conditions, prices increased and, overall, the general improvement was sufficient to increase average margins, according to Teagasc.

This was not the case for all crops, however, with spring crops especially affected by late planting and adverse summer weather.

Average gross output increased by 16% to €120,974. This was due to a combination of factors, with increased output value for wheat and straw in particular. Some farms also benefitted from the growth of forage crops, according to the survey.

In line with the other farm systems, costs increased on tillage farms in 2018, increasing by 14% overall to €78,319. This was due to both increases in individual cost items and a slight increase in overall tillage area on NFS farms which was up 2% to 37ha.

Direct costs increased by 16% year-on-year, with fertiliser the main component, up 16% to just under €12,000 on the average tillage farm, according to Teagasc.

Expenditure on purchased seed and crop protection totalled a similar amount, with purchased seed costs rising by 8% and crop protection remaining unchanged compared to the previous year.

As on other farms, expenditure on contracting charges rose strongly year-on-year, up 16% to €7,822 on average.

As most tillage farms also have a significant cattle enterprise, expenditure on purchased concentrates also increased in 2018, more than doubling to €5,061 on average, the report notes.

Overhead costs also increased, rising 13% year-on-year, similar to most systems last year. With regard to individual cost items, conacre rental costs were up by 21% to €5,436 on average.

Costs relating to fuel and electricity also increased, as did those relating to land improvement and depreciation. Data from the Teagasc NFS 2018 indicates that on the average tillage farm 33ha – over half of all land area – was dedicated to cereals.

The average farm gross margin was €1,323/ha and this included a basic payment of €318.