‘Tillage farmers can save money if they plan ahead’

Tillage farmers can save money by carrying out some preparation and planning with regards to fertiliser, machinery and cropping plans, according to Teagasc Tillage Ciaran Collins.

However, Collins added that no single charge is going to save a farmer a fortune but a combination of factors may help to improve cashflow. 

A tillage farmer can make substantial savings by preparing a fertiliser plan which would tailor fertiliser inputs to the crops needs, he said.

A soil test would be the first thing to carry out. This is a simple enough procedure and we recommend farmers to test the field in a W shape to give results a fairly good representation.

“In fields where Phosphorous and Potassium may already be high enough, farmers can then cut down on fertilisers,” he said.

The difference in cost of fertilising a field with high fertility compared to one with low fertility can be as much as €200/ha, he added.

Cattle slurry, if spread at a rate of 1,000 gallons/ac, is worth €50/ha, Teagasc figures show.

The Tillage Specialist also advised farmers not to overspend on machinery and to spread their repayments evenly throughout the year.

“It is important to have a machinery plan in place. By calculating machinery costs and having an even flow of repayments throughout the year then there won’t be as much pressure on cashflow.

Farmers sometimes have a big spike of repayments for maybe a two or three year period and this can cause serious difficulties for cash flow.

If there is a machinery plan in place a farmer will know what a they can and cannot afford, regardless of whether they see a machine for a really good deal or not, he added.

Collins also spoke of the importance and time saving aspect of planning the purchase of when and how much inputs, such as fertiliser and seed, is needed so they are on site on the day that they are needed.

Meanwhile, he also encouraged farmers to carry out a profit monitor on crops that were grown on the farm in 2016 and to analyse their performance, a tool which would aid spring crop choice for 2017.

A profit monitor would also provide tillage farmers with their output costs and let them know the minimum price per tonne they need to make a profit, Collins added.

This type of information would also come in handy when farmers are deciding on whether or not to go down the route of forward selling, he said.