Teagasc urge tillage farmers to consider machinery partnerships
Tillage farmers will need to look for solutions to boost profitability despite record yields in 2015, according to Teagasc crops specialist, Michael Hennessy.
"Record yields have been achieved in the last few years, but more and more farmers are beginning to realise that their bank accounts are not bulging the same way as their stores. With costs continuing to eat into profits, their best option is to target some of the biggest costs on the farm. Machinery accounts for 40pc of the growing costs and farmers must look at innovative machinery ownership arrangements," said the Oak Park expert.
"I'm seeing lots of guys farming a couple of hundred acres of grain with maybe €400,000-500,000 of machinery in the yard - that's just not sustainable with the margins that are there at the moment.
"By having shared ownership farmers can also deploy labour more effectively at peak work load times such as planting or harvesting," added Mr Hennessy. He believes machinery pooling and partnerships should have a role, even though they have failed to catch on in the sector so far.
"Tillage farmers are different to say dairy farmers in that they are more mobile when it comes to land.
"So they haven't needed to form strategic alliances with their neighbours. In fact, they're often rivals competing for the same land in the area," he said.
The tillage landscape has undergone a major shift over the last five to 10 years, with the area of winter barley trebling in size. Estimates suggest that the planted area of the crop rose another 5pc this year to close to 80,000ha.
Winter wheat area appears to have increased by 5,000ha to around 60,000ha, although this is still lower than the 70,000ha that the crop commanded before the rise of winter barley.