Recent Submissions

  • Financial benchmarking on dairy farms: Exploring the relationship between frequency of use and farm performance

    Ramsbottom, George; Läpple, D.; Pierce, K. M. (Elsevier, 2021-03-31)
    The importance of financial benchmarking has increased in recent years as European Union milk quota abolition has facilitated rapid change in the dairy sector. This study evaluates the association between usage frequency of a financial benchmarking tool [Profit Monitor (PM)] and farm changes on spring-calving pasture-based dairy farms. To this end, physical and financial data for 5,945 dairy farms, representing 20,132 farm years, for the years 2010 to 2018 were used. Farms were categorized by frequency of annual financial benchmarking over the 9-yr period into frequent PM users (7–9 yr), infrequent PM users (4–6 yr), low PM users (1–3 yr), and nonusers. We use a mixed model framework and econometric models to characterize farms and to explore characteristics and determinants of economic performance and user groups. The most frequent users of the financial benchmarking tool had the greatest increase in intensification (measured by change in farm stocking rate), productivity (measured by change in milk production per hectare), and financial performance (measured by change in farm gross output and net profit per hectare) across the study period. Infrequent and low PM users of the benchmarking tool were intermediate for all variables measured, whereas nonusers had the least change. Empirical results indicated that economic performance was positively associated with dairy specialization and pasture utilization for all groups. Despite considerable fluctuations over the observation period, the overall change in total farm net profit between 2010 and 2018 was greatest for the frequent PM users (an increase of 70%, or €37,639), followed by farms in the infrequent PM user category (a 71% increase corresponding to an increase of €28,008 in net profit); meanwhile, low PM user and nonuser categories showed increases of 69% (€26,270) and 42% (€10,977), respectively. The results of this study also clearly indicated the existence of a strong positive association between frequency of financial benchmarking and greater technical and financial efficiency. The econometric analysis revealed that financial benchmarking users are more likely than nonusers to have larger herds, and that regional differences exist in usage rates. Finally, the study concludes by suggesting that the development of simplified financial benchmarking technologies and their support are required to increase benchmarking frequency, which may also help to facilitate a more sustainable and resource efficient dairy industry.
  • A Guide to Designing a Sheep Handling Unit

    Egan, Edward (Teagasc, 2020)
    The purpose of this book 1. How to design an efficient new handling unit. 2. How to improve an existing handling unit. 3. Bring together in one book good handling ideas. 4. Consider different options.
  • A Study of the Effectiveness of Risk Assessment and Extension Supports for Irish Farmers to Improve Farm Safety and Health Management

    McNamara, John G. (2014)
    The agricultural sector workforce in Ireland and Internationally has a poor occupational safety and health (OSH) record. Given this situation, identifying approaches to improve OSH adoption on farms are urgently required, yet limited research has been conducted on this topic. In Ireland, legislation introduced in 2005 permitted the development of a Code of Practice (COP) in association with a Risk Assessment Document (RAD) for specific sectors to assist owners of small-scale enterprises and the self-employed to manage OSH. Two state agencies, the Health and Safety Authority and Teagasc – Agriculture and Food Development Authority, formed an alliance to undertake a Prevention Initiative to develop the COP and RAD for the agriculture sector and to assist farmers to use these documents to manage farm OSH and to assess the utility of the approach adopted. The Prevention Initiative firstly developed the RAD on a pilot basis and assessed its value in assisting farmers with OSH management in association with provision of short halfday training and follow-up extension. This was followed by circulation of COP documents, including the RAD, to farmers nationally and making available half-day training based on the RAD and associated OSH extension. A mixed-method research approach was implemented to assess the RAD utility and effectiveness while triangulation of data from different sources was undertaken to maximise the knowledge gained. Questionnaires were used among farmer participants (n=1,206) and Teagasc staff (n=54), who facilitated the training, to gain opinions of the RAD and of the training provided. RAD’s were assembled (n=475) and assessed for their completion levels and nature of controls specified for action by farmers. Farm audits were undertaken (n=94) to assess implementation of farm OSH controls in association with RAD use. A nationally representative survey of farmers (n=891) was used to establish levels of COP and RAD usage and farm accident levels. Farmers reported having a positive attitude to farm OSH. They rated the RAD developed on a pilot basis as the most helpful to them in assisting with OSH management when compared with other legal documents developed in Ireland for this purpose. Farmers perceptions of the causes of serious accidents were found to be at variance with objective data and it was concluded that use of the RAD was an effective means of accurate communications. The COP and RAD documents were used to a limited extent among the farming population and it was concluded that greater utility of these documents requires further support through training. Participation in training on RAD completion in the project pilot phase was motivated by farmers’ desire to improve farm OSH and to gain assistance in completing the legally required documents. Among training approaches used, participants rated using accident victim testimonials and visual approaches to show OSH controls most useful while the provision of information on farmers’ health and level of discussion during training as least useful. Most participants were willing to engage in further OSH farm-based extension including participation in further training and attending farm demonstrations. Following RAD completion, most farmers (78%) planned to make OSH changes for which farm resources were mainly available, but just over half (55%) implemented the changes they planned and these were identified as having a prior record of OSH adoption. Farmers identified a limited number of controls in the RAD for action and those who attended training specified a higher level , while controls specified were mainly physical in nature such as machinery and farm facilities improvement. RAD facilitators were satisfied with the content and structure of farmer RAD training and the majority (80%) were also satisfied with the training they received to provide RAD farmer training while those dissatisfied mainly felt that the training provided was too short. Advisors who facilitated RAD training when compared to those not allocated this role, subsequently reported providing higher levels of OSH advice. Farmers’ completion of the RAD with or without training (half-day) was not associated with reduced farm accident levels. Farm accident level was associated with farms where the farmer and spouse had off farm work, which were comparatively larger in scale. Being a Teagasc client or having received agricultural education was not associated with reduced farm accident levels. Overall the study indicates that farmers’ knowledge is not the limiting factor to OSH implementation as use of the RAD and training did not lead to OSH change among prior non-adopters. The study recommends further assessment of extension approaches which can motivate OSH adoption such as use of farmer discussion groups which have been shown to improve farm management and technology adoption.
  • Supports for Farmers

    Teagasc, Head Office; Citizens Information Board, Head Office (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018)
    The objective of this publication is to provide up-to-date information to help improve the situation of farmers in rural Ireland. It is intended to provide up-to-date information to help improve the situation of farmers and people involved in providing services to the farming community and is based on our understanding of current regulation and practice. The information in this guide is intended as a general guide only and is not a legal interpretation.
  • A Study of Communication Methods for Teagasc to Engage with Agricultural College Graduates from Graduation to Farm Ownership

    Kelly, John W. (2015-10)
    The overall aim of this study was to successfully develop a useful method for Teagasc advisors to engage and keep in contact with agricultural college graduates. Graduates from Ballyhaise Agricultural College were surveyed in order to identify if they wanted future contact with Teagasc and if so what methods they would like to use. In addition existing contact between students and a Teagasc advisor was evaluated. A number of international extension and education organisations were contacted to investigate if they were using any methods to retain contact with their graduates. The early phase of the study formulated ideas for the development of a number of innovative methods for Teagasc to retain contact with graduates; these included the use of the social media website Facebook, publication of an agricultural college newsletter and SMS text alert services to graduates. The key findings from the study were that graduates want to keep in contact with Teagasc and due to the good experience they had in agricultural college they would like to receive regular information and participate in Teagasc discussion groups. They also would like to have regular contact with an advisor while in college. Existing students found the introduction to an advisor via a farm walk and guest lecture to be very beneficial. Social media was found to be the most engaging and interactive method of contact with graduates. The Ballyhaise Agricultural College newsletter was found to be an excellent source of technical information and SMS text messaging was the most effective method of communicating short messages. The study recommends that Teagasc implement these methods on a national basis across its agricultural colleges and local advisory offices