Ireland’s total tillage area is estimated to have declined by almost 6,600ha this year to 344,200ha. Cereal area is estimated to have dropped by just over 10,000ha in 2024.

These estimates are provided by seed multiplier Goldcrop, with official preliminary figures to come from the Department of Agriculture.

The decline comes when the Government’s target is to increase tillage area to 400,000ha by 2030.

Cereal area is taking a big hit. Across 2023 and 2024, the total cereal area has declined by over 25,000ha.

Poor weather for planting has contributed to this, along with demand for land from other sectors and declining prices and profits.

The reduction in cereal area means less grain is now available for animal feed and straw availability will be down on a normal year. Poor weather and late sowing dates this season are also likely to impact on grain and straw yields.

Estimates show oilseed rape area declined by over 5,000ha, beans and peas climbed by about 900ha, cereal and protein crops increased by over 650ha, potatoes climbed 700ha. However the big increase came from maize, which jumped by approximately 6,340ha.

Tillage farms

The total tillage drop of around 2% in area is lower than expected. A 6% to 10% drop in tillage area had been predicted by some earlier this year.

The increase in protein/cereal mix crops and maize area signals that land may be moving away from specialist tillage farms and will see them lose scale, threatening their viability.

Grain prices declined again this week and harvest prices offered to growers for green barley and wheat fell to €180/t and €205/t, respectively. However, harvesting is some way off yet.