Tillage Sector Development Plan Presented to Government
A new Development Plan for the Tillage Sector was launched in Dublin today, Wednesday, 7 November. 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.
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.
The achievement of the ambitious targets set out in the plan will require sustained and co-ordinated action from the entire industry.
These actions include:
- Intensive research across the entire sector to remain competitive. A yield increase of 1.0% per annum is targeted.
- To aid knowledge transfer, the DEP/BTAP farmer discussion group schemes should be considered for the tillage sector.
- Future legislation for plant protection products should not be over restrictive.
- In the reform of the CAP, maintaining the current level of Single Farm Payment is essential to maintaining the family farm structure and to counter extreme volatility in grain markets.
- More specific crop and soil type based fertilizer recommendations should be incorporated into future Nitrates Action Plans.
- Frameworks needed to facilitate the use of organic manures/municipal sludges on arable crops.
- To facilitate access to land at a reasonable cost, share farming, collaborative partnerships, and leasing arrangements should be supported to assist growers achieve economies of scale.
- Increased crop production will require a significant investment in storage, handling and drying facilities, both at producer and merchant level.
- Steps are needed to enable the crushing of oilseed rape oil on the island of Ireland to ensure oilseed rape meal is retained for the feed market.
- 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.
- The re-establishment of the sugar beet industry will require the abolition of sugar quotas.
- The benefits of new GM technologies should be researched and exploited if acceptable to the consumer.
Up to one third of Irish soils are deemed to be either moderately suitable, or very suitable for tillage crops.
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.
With the Minister(centre) are Andy Doyle, comittee member, Paddy Browne, Head of Crop Environment & Land use Programme, Teagasc, Tom Barry TD and Larry O'Reilly, group chairman.