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“Tillage sector’s resilience, key to future sustainability” – Dairygold Tillage Conference

“Tillage sector’s resilience, key to future sustainability” – Dairygold Tillage Conference

16th January 2024

For tillage farmers, building resilience into their business is key to achieving long term success.  This was the message from Liam O’Flaherty, General Manager at Dairygold Agri Business at the Society’s Annual Tillage Conference, which took place in Corrin Event Centre on Friday 12th January. The event attracted a large crowd along with 30 trade exhibitions who united to show support for the greater tillage industry and showcased new and evolving products and practices for the future.

The experience of 2023 with challenging weather, a difficult harvest and tightening margins has confirmed that the sector is resilient and will always adapt and succeed. It has also highlighted the importance of looking at every aspect of tillage enterprises to ensure resilience and sustainability both environmental and financial are always key areas of focus. Our tillage growers are a key part of our overall business and Ireland’s tillage industry continues to support hundreds of farming families across the country and make a significant contribution to national GDP, we need to ensure that we continue to have a thriving tillage sector into the future ” added the Dairygold Agribusiness General Manager.

Facilitated by former Irish Farmers Journal tillage editor, Andy Doyle, the speakers on the day included Eoin Lowry – Head of Agriculture at Bank of Ireland, Ciaran Collins – Teagasc specialist and William and Robert Coleman – Tillage Farmers from Cork.

Eoin Lowry explained how to build resilience in turbulent times and how to manage challenges and identify opportunities within the Tillage Industry by measuring performance, benchmarking standards ,and knowing the returns needed to achieve short, medium and long-term goals.

Ciaran Collins communicated the importance of looking at ways to protect margin. He highlighted potential measures including the possibility of how forward selling can be used to de-risk your business but only when “knowing your costs” along with the need to always monitor the market.

Robert Coleman explained how the Coleman Family have adapted to new technology and agronomy practices to enhance their environmental and financial sustainability. This was a journey they enjoyed while always challenging the norm.

Minimum Contract Price for Beans

At the conference Dairygold confirmed a minimum contract price of €250/t for the 2024 protein bean crop.  According to Liam Leahy, Dairygold’s Beef and Tillage Manager; “Our minimum contract price for protein beans for the 2024 season, is a commitment to encouraging the harvesting of this valuable native crop for the season ahead. Beans are an important ingredient in Dairygold’s feeds supplying a rich source of valuable native protein and starch.” . This strong pricing commitment from Dairygold offers welcomed security to growers who want to make informed commercial decisions early in the season.

Malting Barley Winner

Dairygold also took the opportunity to confirm the O’Connor family from Ballyvodock, south of Midleton town, Co. Cork as the overall winners of this year’s Dairygold Malting Barley competition.

Denis O’Connor and his wife Maria, along with his parents Denis and Ann, have grown their business significantly in recent years as they adapted from sugar beet farming. Denis describes the Farm as an ideal site for Malting Barley as the ground is free-draining and can be worked from late January offering the opportunity to plant cover crops after cereal harvest, to enhance organic matter and carbon retention. The O’ Connors are dedicated to farming sustainably, and soil sample every three years to ensure that the land has the right nutrient levels.

According to Denis: “We farm very early ground and look on this as a massive asset to us, that’s our strength and we capitalize on it.

Congratulating the O ’Connors, Dairygold Vice Chairman Ger O’Dwyer said, “Denis O’Connor and his family showcase the very best of innovative and sustainable farming practices. They have a deep commitment to nurturing the land and its resources. Their victory shows their dedication to a more sustainable agricultural future.”