The latest edition of the Tillage Edge podcast features a discussion on the implementation of the new Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS).

Michael Hennessy, Ciaran Collins and Shay Phelan of Teagasc focused specifically on the make-up of the scheme and what is, or is not, in the new measure, for bespoke tillage farmers.

Phelan outlined the main elements within the TIS. These include incentivising farmers to convert grassland into a cropping area for 2022.

He explained: “The key thing to it is, whatever tillage land is applied for in the Basic Payment Scheme [BPS] application for 2022, that it shows an increase on the previous year.

“Key to this is the need for the increase in tillage area to come from grassland. The aim of the scheme is to increase the overall tillage area in the country.”

Tillage Incentive Scheme open to all farmers

According to Phelan, TIC can be accessed by all farmers – milk producers, drystock farmers and existing tillage farmers.

He commented: “For 2022, the rate of payment will be €400/ha. Wheat, barley, oats, maize, fodder beet and potatoes are all included within the scheme.”

Phelan then addressed the question – what’s in the TIC for specialist tillage farmers who do not have any grassland?

He said: “Bespoke tillage farmers may be of the view that there is little in the new scheme for them. However, it may well turn out that many grassland producers looking to grow crops this year, may well end up turning to their tillage farming neighbours for advice and access to the machinery and expertise to grow the additional crops that are planted out.”

“And, obviously, those tillage farmers involved in such activity will be paid for the work that they undertake.”

There is a general assumption that up to 10,000ha of grassland could be converted to crops this year. But how much of this additional land will be retained in tillage for the long-term?

Shay Phelan believes this is a very difficult issue to judge.

He explained: “One factor coming into play here will be the ongoing situation in Ukraine and Russia.

“If grain supplies from these regions remain tight, it’s likely there will be an incentive for Irish farmers to produce more crops.

“This is not just a one-off. The fallout from the war could last for a number of years. So the likelihood is that there will be encouragements put in place for Irish farmers to grow more grain, the longer the war in Ukraine continues.”