The Tillage Sector Development Plan, compiled by the Teagasc Tillage Crop Stakeholder Consultative Group, was presented to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD

Tom Barry TD and Minister of Agriculture Simon Coveney TD pictured with members of the Teagasc Tillage Stakeholders Group at the launch of their Harvest 2020





Tom Barry is a member of the Teagasc Tillage Crop Stakeholder Consultative Group, who presented a new Development Plan for the Tillage Sector in Dublin last week to Minister Simon Coveney. The Plan will serve as an add-on to Harvest 2020; dealing specifically with tillage.

document, ‘Tillage Sector Development Plan 2012′, outlines the significant potential for and identifies scope to increase cereal area by up to 50% if the way is cleared for sugar and energy crop production to meet national requirements. The report also identifies potential for up to €500 million of additional output value plus the creation of 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs to support the expanded output.

The biggest potential is seen in oilseed rape but the report calls for action to enable crushing to take place here so that both the oil and cake can be utilised in Ireland. There is also considerable scope for increased malting barley output, both for home malting and export.

Oats is also targeted for increased output for both the human and equine markets where expansion of exports are predicted in each sector.

The increasing requirement for feed grains to support the expansion foreseen in the livestock sector in Food Harvest 2020 underpins the need for increased grain output. Native, quality, traceable feeds are essential to support the Brand Ireland concept for the increased export of livestock products.

Chairman of the Group, Larry O Reilly said; “If all the potential increases in the various crops were achieved, the area under crops could increase by 221,730 hectares or some 64%. There would be a cumulative potential to increase the output of the sector by
€541 million and to create up to 3,000 new jobs.”

The cropped area in Ireland currently extends to 378,000 hectares or 9% of the area farmed. Crop production, including horticulture, contributes €700 million to agricultural output. The Tillage Sector Development Plan examines the 9 major crops relevant to Ireland – Barley, Wheat, Oats, Pulses, Oilseed Rape, Energy crops, Potatoes, Beet, and Maize. It identifies considerable potential for expansion in cereals, oilseed rape and some potential in potatoes.

There is also potential for expansion in energy crops, but this will depend on an integrated cross departmental range of incentives.

Among the ambitious targets set out in the plan are intensive research across the entire sector to remain competitive. A yield increase of 1.0% per annum is targeted.

The plans suggests that, to aid knowledge transfer, the DEP/BTAP farmer discussion group schemes should be considered for the tillage sector. It also calls that future legislation for plant protection not be over restrictive and appeals for the current level
of SFP in CAP reform proposals.

The plans calls for more specific crop and soil type based fertilizer recommendations to be incorporated into future Nitrates Action Plans and for frameworks to facilitate the use of
organic manures/municipal sludges on arable crops.

The group also argue for the facilitation of access to land at a reasonable cost, share farming, collaborative partnerships, and leasing arrangements should be supported to
assist growers achieve economies of scale.

The plan acknowledges that increased crop production will require a significant investment in storage, handling and drying facilities, both at producer and merchant level
and proposes increased use of native feed ingredients to underpin the achievement of the Food Harvest 2020 targets and to enhance Bord Bia’s Origin Green Ireland campaign.

There is emphasis on, for re-establishment of the sugar beet industry, the abolition of sugar quotas.

The plan also raises the issue of greening which would have a very negative and disproportionate impact on tillage farming.