Energy needs to determine tillage surge
By 2018, the area of land devoted to tillage and energy crops is expected to increase by up to 46pc, but energy policy issues between now and then will ultimately determine the scale of increase.
The number of full-time tillage growers will fall to 1,000, but they will produce 60pc of the national tillage output. The remaining 40pc of crops will be grown by 11,000 part-time farmers who will produce tillage and bio-energy crops.
The area sown to cereals will increase by 20pc, from 290,500ha to 350,000ha, including a 32pc increase in wheat area, a 12pc rise in barley area and a 39pc increase in oats area.
In line with the Brand Ireland objective in the Harvest 2020 Report, the proportion of homegrown cereals used in the livestock sector is expected to increase, particularly in pig, poultry and dairy diets.
By 2018, most tillage farmers will be availing of environmental scheme payments and perennial crops like miscanthus and willow are forecast to grow from just 3,000ha to 70,000ha to meet our national and EU commitments.
In the meantime, miscanthus establishment costs will fall by up to 30pc due to home production of planting stock, while the cost of drying willow chips will drop to below €10/t.
The area sown to oilseed rape is expected to more than quadruple from 3,700ha to 20,000ha to supply high-value food, feed and industrial ingredients.