Crops account for approximately 8% of Ireland’s farmed area and future careers in this sector were discussed on the latest episode of the Tillage Edge podcast.

However, the official statistics confirm that the sector generates the second-highest on-farm margins. Specialist dairying holds the ‘number one’ spot in this ranking table.

According to Teagasc, tillage offers a number of rewarding career opportunities for people of all ages.

Careers in the crops sector

During the podcast, Barry Larkin – CEO of the Acorn Group – profiled the fast evolving opportunities that will present themselves for people looking to engage with the crops sector.

Prior to taking up his current position, Larkin had worked for a number of years in Australia, with a strong focus on development of herbicide and fungicide trials across a number of crop types.

He explained: “Australia was entirely different from Ireland in terms of the crop-related products that were allowed for use. In fact, I was working with a number of chemicals that had previously been banned in Europe.

“But the fundamentals of the agronomy practised were basically the same in the two locations.”

In December 2016, Larkin came back to Ireland and took up a commercial position with CropLink.

“I was there for four years, during which time I would have interfaced with co-ops and merchants around the country,” he explained.

“Most of the work involved me dealing with agronomists.”

In January 2021 Larkin started with the Acorn Group. It is made up of 10 fairly sizeable merchants around the country.  

He explained:

“My job is to coordinate the group. It involves purchasing of crop products and also interacting on issues relating to legislation that is coming down the line.”


According to Larkin, agronomy skills can be taken around the world.

“That point first hit home with me when I went out to Australia as a student,” he said.

“A background in arable production makes you very employable in countries around the world. Dairy, on the other hand, is restricted to Ireland plus parts of the UK and France.

“Wheat and oilseed rape are now the main crops grown in Australia and the United States. Here we have a very large population of livestock that needs to be fed. We are in a bit of a deficit situation at the moment,” he added.

“This is why we are seeing a push towards an expansion of Ireland’s arable area. We need to look at ways of weakening our dependency on imports.”