Machinery sharing can cut tillage costs by up to 15pc
Machinery is the single biggest cost incurred by tillage farmers when producing their cereal crop.
Shay Phelan, a tillage specialist at Teagasc, told farmers at the Teagasc National Crops Forum that machinery can account for up to 40pc of the total costs of growing crops in Ireland - and this cost doesn't necessarily decrease if farm scale increases.
Having conducted a survey on 139 farms, with an average size of 270 acres, Teagasc concluded that there is about €10 per acre of a difference in savings when it comes to farm size. However, farm fragmentation can increase machinery costs hugely.
"Farm size doesn't necessarily dilute machinery costs. It brings costs down slightly but not hugely," said Mr Phelan.
"Land fragmentation has an impact. Farms that are in the one block have fewer costs. There's almost €20 per acre of a difference with very fragmented farms, just in terms of wear and tear, and the diesel expenses of going over and back add to the costs on your farm."
He added that machinery costs will be incurred somewhere along the line, whether you're a farmer with old machinery that will need to be repaired or replaced, or if you have bought new machinery and need to make repayments.
"You need to ask yourself, do you need it or do you want it. You have to make those repayments whether you've a good or bad year. So avoid impulse buying.
"Also, if you've older machinery, you may say it's costing me nothing but when it comes to passing it on to the next generation, it won't make the grade."