Busy Tillage

Discussion in 'Tillage' started by CORK, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. CORK

    CORK Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Messages:
    13,441
    Location:
    East Cork, Ireland
    Just a quick observation and not one that really justifies a thread....

    Isnt the tillage section one of the busiest parts of this forum? Just in the past week, this forum has come up in conversation (without any prompt from me) with a number of farmers.

    It is being watched by a lot of growers, some contributing and others just reading.

    This demonstrates something I already knew - the hunger for information that tillage farmers hold. Information is power and is something that can give us that productivity edge that we need to survive in this climate.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2016
  2. nashmach

    nashmach Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    43,736
    Location:
    Wexford, Ireland
    It is indeed and a credit to those who post in it.

    Long may it continue.

    And for any of those just reading, join up lads/lassies, post an odd post and it will develop more.

    Even if it is just the yield that you are getting or what spray you are putting on. We don't bite (honestly!).
     
    thorpe, Blackwater boy, vf949 and 3 others like this.
  3. diesel power

    diesel power Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    14,350
    Location:
    Laois
    The tillage section does tend to get a lot of use and it's great that it does. I've learned more then I can remember about crops and sprays and such from guys like Cork and all the others who have a wealth of information and advice and give it out freely. Keep it up lads, we'd be nowhere without it :Thumbp2:
     
  4. Blackwater boy

    Blackwater boy Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Messages:
    8,526
    Location:
    West waterford
    I wouldn't actually have taught we had that many looking in. This a great section as there is a great spread of growers geographically growing all types of crops and we all do different things from cultivation to inputs to cropping choice which is great. It would be even better if some of the lookers in posted a bit to stir conversation as to the good and the bad crops as we all have the highs and lows and teasing the problems out on here with others benefits us all going forward.
    The tillage scene is in a bad way at the minute no doubt and major uncertainty surrounds all our plans going forward and it's good to talk and share the frustration.
     
    diesel power, Mr Mojo, thorpe and 4 others like this.
  5. ithastopay

    ithastopay Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
    Messages:
    5,439
    Location:
    westmeath
    I've been waiting to see when somebody would mention how bad things are in tillage, reading some of the posts on here recently I've been more reluctant than normal to post.
    I like this forum and this section particularly. I might not have much to offer on agronomy.
    I rarely get involved in matters related to spraying as I don't spray my brother looks after that end of things, I would have noting to offer and as such I don't get involved.

    If an outsider was reading this, they would assume that all is well in the tillage sector,
    Some great yields reported on here recently,
    No such yields up this end of the country,
    We still have not worked out all of our yields, I could put a positive spin on it and say we had a field which did 4t of WB (3.8/9 would be more accurate) that would be true, however it would be 12ac out a block of 104.
    In reality our average yield on WB will be 3.4t (from what merchants tell me our average is slightly above the local average)
    Oats will be similar at 3.4 or slightly higher.
    Wheat I can't say yet, we haven't much done, first field which was poor did 3.3t.
    Locally yields are 3.1 to 3.8 (dried) the high yield being a first wheat after beans.

    The weather up here has been a battle since the first weekend in June.
    I ploughed a field for grass seeds in May, the brother suggested we sow barley and whole crop it, we didn't, it was sowed last Friday the same day we cut out other SB as wholecrop.
    I've another block ploughed longer, tough heavy Meath land, got it ready for sowing last Tuesday but didn't get it sowed.
    Currently raining here.
    We got stopped cutting oats last Thursday week (11aug) had 2 or 3 ac to finish got that cut on Saturday.
    Cut wheat on Monday and Tuesday until the rain came. Heavy rain here now, Rain again tomorrow. At best we might get to cut on Tuesday (23 August)
    That's two days cutting out of 12.
    It's a pain in the hole, I haven't even got to the point of my post.
    Grain price is on the floor, we are not making any money, no one on here seems to be complaining?

    All the posts about yields and methods of establishment, not a mention of the only thing that matters profit.
    I farm to make a living, whatever we do it fcuking has to pay or we can't continue.
    Current yields and prices, bad weather there will be no money made this year.

    How do the rest of ye do it?
    Honest answers please.
     
  6. mcdp

    mcdp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    64
    I admire your honesty ithastopay. Only cut one crop here- barra oats. Did 3.25t/ha after beans so nothing record breaking about it. Theres no doubt about it, anyone who makes any profit this year will be doing well. I did a bit of economics once upon a time. One definition of a perfectly competitive market is "a market with a large number of small producers ( farmers)who produce an identical product ( grain in this case) and no single producer is large enough to influence the market. That statement typifies irish grain farmers. Unfortunately in a perfectly competitive market only the best should make money, the average should break even and those below average will lose money. In my opinion farmers are way to focused on the top line(turnover) rather than the bottom line (net profit). At the end of the day turnover is vanity and profit is sanity. Yields without costs is only half the picture and realistically a crop could produce a big yield if the kitchen sink was trown at it in terms of chemicals and fert but this obviously translate into big profits. Personally id much perfer to grown a variety that is a point higher on the spetoria raking than one thats 5 points higher on yield. Growing average crops might not make a person farmer of the year but it might be the least risky option gowing forward.
     
  7. Louis mc

    Louis mc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    Messages:
    870
    W
    what should we complain about and to who should we direct our complaints? God for not sending perfect weather? The Chicago stock exchange for setting prices so low?
    Last year was an excellent year and this one will be a bit shit, that's kind of the way it goes.

    I can. Honestly say our wb and ww yields have been awful, especially considering the cost of them. Out oats rape and direct drilled wheat have been more satisfying without being spectacular.

    There will be no money made this year but it's also not our God given tight to make a fortune every year. Most have single farm payments and this year it will be doing what's it's supposed to...... "Keeping farmers going through tough financial times"

    You say there aren't enough posts about profit? But surely profit is made up of all the bits and pieces related to growing a crop. Reducing establishment costs, optimising fertiliser and other inputs based on expected yield and prices in a given year or what ever it might be to improve your margin.

    There is hope out there, this year has taught me to start looking after soil as no.1 and take a longer term view.
     
  8. KJL

    KJL Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Messages:
    1,494
    Location:
    Meath
    Was last year that good? Sure it was a barn buster, and crops were cut at low enough moisture. But, any surplus was in the main used to fill holes from previous years. That's generally speaking of course.

    I don't think anyone is suggesting tillage farmers go on a moan campaign. We had the IFA a few weeks ago waving placards at a southern port protesting at grain imports. Not having a go at them, but who was that news to? Absolutely no one. I have no problem with imported grain, as long as it's assured to the same standards as native grain. There can't be one rule for native grain, and a completely different set for imported stuff.

    We can talk about margins and cost savings and various methods of planting and cover cropping until the cows come home. But the fact is tillage farming is struggling, and has been for a few years, and it's goes back to basic economics. The cost of growing cereals it far too high, and the price we receive for grain is too low. Around here there are very few surviving on tillage alone, most have their finger in some other type of pie. How many acres of cereals would it take to sustain and educate a family of say five now? I know saving a few litres of diesel here and there, or skimping on inputs isn't going to be the difference between a luxurious lifestyle, or a bargain basement existence.
     
    nashmach, guest 1, Oakley and 3 others like this.
  9. guest 1

    guest 1 Guest

    Just out of curiosity, how do you reconcile "looking after soil as no.1 and taking a longer-term view" with skimping on inputs, in particular P & K?
     
  10. headcase

    headcase Very Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2009
    Messages:
    20,230
    Location:
    pembrokeshire
    Not only Irish growers! !
     
    CORK likes this.
  11. laoisfarmer

    laoisfarmer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Messages:
    4,714
    Location:
    laois
    Fair point but in a low price year do we not just get on with it , it's a world market we trade in , far from a perfect world we live in , I wouldn't be great on agronomy either but I would be trying varieties and different fertiliser rates and types , have we not had years as tight both financially and weather wise before , (to many of these unfortunately )we are half way through harvest and had just finished what was ripe on Tuesday night , have the w wheat ready to cut now and some Spring barley next week from Monday on , many a year we have cutting both crops until and even after the ploughing .have 260 acres of straw on the ground on Tuesday . Luckily enough got 70 acres baled Thursday . We would be relatively new to larger acres of grain until 7 years ago ,300 was our max between ours and hire where as now it's near 900 with a near 50/50 split .on the yield averages the bigger the aacerage gets the less the average is .we would be on average ground but have some good ground also and would never be breaking any yield averages , have tried to get into malting and seed crops to help prices but not always easy , also selling straight to farmers has its bonus.W barley average would be 3.6 , very happy , w oats averaged 2.95 but that would be all poorer ground with 82 acres in 11 fields with a lot of poor headlands .first 67 acres s barley did 3 . Not much Spring barley this year so expecting that to be the average . Are we making money , on owned land yes ,on share farm it would be good ground and would have a good hire work fee from it , rented land is minimal and not paying big money where feed crops are so hoping it will be ok also . Straw would averaging over €110 acre with some good buyers . Do want more money for grain yes but I'd have it spent so it's cut the cloth to fit year . DONE
     
  12. CORK

    CORK Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Messages:
    13,441
    Location:
    East Cork, Ireland
    noted and amended!
     
    headcase likes this.
  13. headcase

    headcase Very Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2009
    Messages:
    20,230
    Location:
    pembrokeshire
    Plenty of
    Scottish and i would say a few welsh with a similar climate to ireland
    Think there's a few engerlish too
     
  14. Louis mc

    Louis mc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    Messages:
    870
    Well it was better than this year and the previous year so that means it's good. How else can you improve profitability if we don't discuss cost saving and soil improvement and yield maximising? What else is there to do?

    It is what it is, beef farming is not much better, sheep is not bad, dairy has been great but I wouldn't like to have converted All tillage ground two years ago, I'd image it would be very tough going right now.

    At the end of the day no one is forced to be a tillage farmer. Highs and lows are not new. I remember in the 90's there was plenty of depressing outcomes post harvest when margins were worked out.

    The big profits of the 70's and 80's were largely due to the initial impact of artificial fert (without the resulting long list of pests and diseases that play havoc with crops) and the false economics of grain being put into intervention at above market price....

    What interest will a bank give you on a deposit account..... Stupid question.
    What's an acceptable return on investment in most types business?
    10% is very respectable
    So if a crop is costing €600 if you average €60/acre per year you are getting as good a return for your money as most other investments.
     
  15. Louis mc

    Louis mc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    Messages:
    870
    I'd put trying not to kill every ounce of soil life with cultivations agead head of replacing p and k. We do replace p and k though bagged and through organic sources, not every field every year but a good chunk of compost covers off takes for a few years. Chopping straw too on all break crops and some wheat
     
    jay gatsby likes this.
  16. CORK

    CORK Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Messages:
    13,441
    Location:
    East Cork, Ireland
    This thread has grown and become more interesting than I expected or intended.

    @KJL asked the question - how many acres of combinable tillage are required to make a living and educate 5 children. An interesting question. At current land rents and excluding SFP, I would say that no amount of rented land would do it. If it were good quality owned land, farmed well, excl SFP then I would say that 6-700 ac would be needed. A lot of variables of course - does one have a mortgage etc etc.

    I have a theory regarding profits from tillage etc. Not sure if I can explain it properly or if its even valid. I'll have a go......

    In very basic terms, us working people are paid based on the time in which we are fully employed. The problem with most tillage farming is that us tillage farmers aren't fully employed most of the time. A dairy farmer will be fully employed on his farm for a greater % of the time than the average tillage or cattle farmer - therefore, on average a dairy farmer will make more per acre - he may be paid even less per hour than a tillage farmer but he will work more hours per acre.

    Technology in the form of machinery, GPS etc has meant that on a worldwide basis tillage farmers now spend less time to produce an acre of crops, therefore they (large commercial outfits) are willing to accept a lower return per acre while making the same wage per hour employed. They would need to produce more margin per acre if they were covering less acres in their time.

    The above time efficiencies are separate from the gains in yield that GM crops, investment etc have brought in many of the large crop producing areas of the world.

    Now, the above doesn't make pretty reading for any of us looking towards the future of tillage farming in this part of the world.

    We have choices - exit the industry or adapt.

    We have great land in this country with the ability to produce the highest yields in the world. There is a GIGANTIC difference between the yields/profits of the top tier of tillage farmers and the bottom tier (same in cattle and dairy farming).
    Costs in all types of farming are now very high - a high yield of meat/grain/milk is required to cover these costs and hopefully leave a margin. The top slice of high production is actually your profit - if you are not getting high production then that margin will not be there (except in those very rare high price years).

    Obviously, there are other factors like land rental, SFP, land quality etc etc but the above are some of my views......

    I try to follow two of the above strategies;

    1. We are part time farmers here at home, we use contractors and relatively high output machinery (for our acres) to do the work with the minimum time invested. Last year, I worked out how many hours we spend on the tractor seat to produce our margin (average margin was €226/ac in 2015 excl EU payments, insurance, esb, accountancy). It was 97 mins per acre. €226 divided by 97 mins = €140/hour. Land is owned - rented land would be another story.....

    2. We strive to produce high yields from our crops - we have certainly improved in this regard. For example, one block of 43 acres was in continuous spring barley for almost 20 years. The continuous spring barley yielded on average 2.9/3tn per acre. Since we introduced rotation, more targeted nutrition, better seed rates and seed beds, the spring barley yields over the past 4 years (incl 2016) have been 3.75tn, 3.8tn, 4.1tn and 3.95tn.
    We also try to maximise premium crops such as seed and malting.
     
  17. gone

    gone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    7,669
    Location:
    CW. southeast Ireland
    I have great respect for anyone who is raising a family solely from farming, when I was a kid it was rare for there to be off farm income coming into family farms and now it is very rare for there not to be

    I would like to be able to discuss costs, but because I am in a purchasing group I am not able to. The group selling is adding to my sales returns and the group purchasing has significantly reduced my costs and on a year like this may make up the bulk of my profit. The fact that I farm a dry farm in one of the driest areas in the country means I am not nearly as badly affected by a wet year as most.

    I am a grain market bull all my life and the first chance I have I am on here talking up prices, even though I still think prices will rise, I think it is more likely that it be at least December now before there is likely to be much movement. Unless something very odd happens we are stuck with poor prices this harvest and I don't want to be on here talking down prices.
    I can see why people are down on the future prospects, but as I have said on another thread the darkest hour is just before dawn and I think that the market has bottomed out and is going to rise over the winter months.
     
    Bog Man, ithastopay, nashmach and 2 others like this.
  18. Rebelman

    Rebelman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2014
    Messages:
    367
    Firstly will openly admit and apologise for that I take a lot more from this section than I give. Super credit to all the lads who consistantly post here with top advice. On the subject of profits etc.... no way could live on tillage alone. Question I often ask myself is would I encourage my kids to follow me into this profession and it both saddens and scares me that for all the pluses to it the answer would be no......
     
  19. johndeere6920s

    johndeere6920s Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2013
    Messages:
    14,246
    Location:
    south west ireland
    There's a difference between lads saying there making nothing and lads that sit down with the calculator and know what they are making.
    And that's no offence to anyone that's posted but you have lads telling you that there making nothing and you can see a reason why if you look around the farm/ yard.
    But tbh it pisses me off at times when I really think about it.
    The hours that go into farming, Id be nearly 100% sure that there isn't another profession that people have such a broad range of knowledge over a range of Practices.
    I mean if you do think about it alot of farmers or contractors are well educated and qualified just don't have the paperwork.
    Over worked and underpaid.
    We have said it before and most are happy to carry on a relatively low wage however it's just totally wrong that you can't make a decent living for putting in so much work.
    It's hard to blame my own age group really for walking away from the farms and getting well paid jobs.
    Bad grain prices /milk /beef prices all boil down to the same problems.
    If there's enough around the lads at the top call the shots.
    It's like fuel it's goes up and goes down but what's stopping it from staying expensive? Nothing because we are still going to use the same amount of it so the men at the top can cream it on if they like.
    I did see this on social media lately FB_IMG_1470582976486.jpg
     
  20. guest 1

    guest 1 Guest

    If I felt I was overworked and underpaid when I was 23 years of age with no commitments I would have looked at a change of career fairly lively. If I felt a job wasn't paying well enough at the hire work then I stopped doing it. I don't kid myself either though, I see friends and relations of mine who are far better paid than I am but I have neither the education nor the qualifications to compare with theirs. It's too late to do anything about that now, it wasn't when I was 23.
     
    laoisfarmer and Peter like this.
  21. johndeere6920s

    johndeere6920s Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2013
    Messages:
    14,246
    Location:
    south west ireland
    As I've said numerous times I'm happy with what I have out of it.
    But in there lies the problem most of us are happy with what we get however it's probably not even near minimum wage in alot of cases
     
  22. kildare

    kildare Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2012
    Messages:
    419
    Location:
    kildare
    All very good posts here. Corks point regarding high output machinery is good. People will produce at lower prices in other countries because they can handle 1000 acres per man and still have a income. Smaller farms here have a problem and everyone is trying to get extra acres . Sometimes at too high a cost.
    Always winners and losers.
    Remember grain growing became unprofitable in the past when grain from america arrived. Same is happening now with Baltic states
     
  23. Mikeyboy

    Mikeyboy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    Messages:
    429
    Location:
    Midlands
    The scale difference between this country and others is nothing new and just a fact of life at this stage! However it does question the economics of grain production in this country! What bemuses me with farmers is their reluctance to change! There's no other industry in this country that people will continue hemorraging funds or working for nothing!
    I like many would be somewhat critical of the greenfield farm but it does demonstrate quite effectively that there are other profitable options which can be done with ground in tillage!
    This is in no means an attack on the tillage men on board here! I for one would hate to see tillage acerage reduced or eliminated in this country. Its just an opinion I heard and kinda struck home on thinking about it!
     
    headcase likes this.
  24. CORK

    CORK Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Messages:
    13,441
    Location:
    East Cork, Ireland
    i think the observation that you make regarding a farming sector making no money but continuing to roll on could also apply to the most common form of farming in this country - beef production.....

    Again, i point out that there is a huge difference in the productivity and profit per acre of the best and worst farmers in all agri sectors.
     
  25. Mikeyboy

    Mikeyboy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    Messages:
    429
    Location:
    Midlands
    Couldn't agree more with you on that one Cork! And infact it's far more pertinent in beef farming which I should have also referenced in my original post!
    I must commend you on disclosing your own yield and output figures which are outstanding! Very few other enterprise could compete on profit output per hour worked!
    It seems that those doing most complaining, in general and not on here by the way, are those who fail to achieve anything more than 'middling' with no drive to improve!
     
    CORK likes this.

Share This Page