• AgriBenchmark: Benchmarking Sustainable Nutrient Management on Irish Farms

      Murphy, Paul N.C.; Thomas, Ian; Buckley, Cathal; Kelly, Edel; Dillon, Emma; Hennessy, Thia; Environmental Protection Agency (2020-10-14)
      AgriBenchmark explored the possibilities for benchmarking of nutrient management performance on Irish farms. Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) data (2008–2015; 1446 farms) were used to characterise and explore the potential for improvement of farm nutrient management performance and resultant aspects of environmental and economic sustainability through the derivation of three key performance indicators (KPIs) at the farm-gate level: farm nutrient balance (kgha–1), nutrient use efficiency (NUE; %) and profitability (gross margin; €ha–1). In this report, the farm nutrient balance is defined as the farm-gate nutrient imports (fertiliser, feed, animals, etc.) minus the exports (animals, crops, wool and milk). A positive balance (surplus) is considered to represent a nutrient source pressure in terms of the risk of nutrient losses to the wider environment. The data and analyses in this report cover the main, more intensive agricultural systems in Ireland (excluding pig and poultry farms) and are representative of, on average, 61% of farms nationally and 76% of the total utilised agriculture area (UAA; excluding commonage).
    • Complexity and conundrums. Citizens’ evaluations of potentially contentious novel food technologies using a deliberative discourse approach

      Greehy, Grainne M.; McCarthy, Mary; Henchion, Maeve; Dillon, Emma; McCarthy, Sinead N.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Elsevier, 12/07/2013)
      This research considers the processes involved in the formation of attitudes by citizens on potentially contentious novel food technologies (NFTs). Observations of one-to-one deliberative discourses between food scientists and citizens, during which they discussed these technologies, form the basis of this enquiry. This approach enables an exploration of how individuals construct meaning around as well as interpret information about the technologies. Thematic analysis identifies key features that provide the frameworks for citizens’ evaluations. How individuals make sense of these technologies is shaped by their beliefs, values and personal characteristics; their perceptions of power and control over the development and sale of NFT related products; and, the extent to which these products are relevant to their personal lives. Internal negotiations between these influences are evident, and evaluations are based on the relative importance of each influence to the individual. Internal conflicts and tensions are associated with citizens’ evolving evaluative processes, which may in turn present as attitude ambivalence and instability. Many challenges are linked with engaging with the general public about these technologies, as levels of knowledge, understanding and interest vary.
    • Developing farm-level sustainability indicators for Ireland using the Teagasc National Farm Survey

      Ryan, Mary; Hennessy, Thia; Buckley, Cathal; Dillon, Emma; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Moran, Brian (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
      In the context of an expanding, export-dependent agri-food sector, indicators of sustainable development and intensification are necessary to measure, assess and verify the comparative advantage afforded by Ireland’s natural pastoral-based food production systems. Such indicators are also necessary to ensure that we produce more food with less adverse impacts on the Irish environment, climate and society. This article outlines the development of farm-level indicators that refect the multifaceted nature of sustainability, which is encompassed in economic, environmental and social indicators. The role of innovation in farm sustainability was also examined. A comparison of indicators across Irish farm systems showed that dairy farms, followed by tillage farms, tended to be the most economically and socially sustainable farm systems. In relation to greenhouse gas emissions in particular, the top-performing dairy farms, in an economic sense, also tended to be the best-performing farms from an environmental sustainability perspective. This trend was also evident in relation to the adoption of innovative practices on farm, which was found to be strongly correlated with economic performance.
    • Factors affecting the level of farm indebtedness: the role of farming attitudes

      Howley, Peter; Dillon, Emma (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2012)
      Using a nationally representative survey of farm operators in Ireland, this paper aims to provide a framework for better understanding the characteristics that influence the degree of indebtedness on farm businesses. This paper derives explanatory variables (based on a factor analysis of respondents mean ratings of 13 multiple value items) representing 3 different farming attitudes. An ordered logit model is then formulated to examine the effect of farming attitudes as well as personal characteristics and farm structural variables on the degree of indebtedness. Personal characteristics of the farmer such as age and education as well as farm structural variables such as farm size and farm system were all found to have a statistically significant impact. The presence of decoupled farm payments was also found to affect the degree of indebtedness. The study identified two distinct farming attitudes which were found to have important but opposite effects. These were attitudes strongly orientated to business related objectives which was positively associated with having farming debts and secondly positive attitudes relating to the benefits of farm relative to non-farm work which was negatively associated with the degree of indebtedness. Past research has focused on the effect of socio-demographic characteristics and farm structural variables in examining differences in farm indebtedness. This study extends this literature by specifically examining the role of farming attitudes. Obtaining a deeper understanding of the factors that affect the level of farming debt will be important as the degree of indebtedness has been found to affect farmers’ management decisions. Furthermore, outside of explaining farm credit use, farming attitudes and motivations may have an important impact on farmers’ behaviour in relation to a variety of farm activities.
    • The role of non-pecuniary benefits in the labour allocation decision of farmers.

      Howley, Peter; Dillon, Emma; Hennessy, Thia (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2012)
      Previous research has primarily focused on the impact of economic variables in explaining the off farm labour allocation decisions of principal farm operators. This study finds attitudes regarding the non-pecuniary benefits associated with the farming lifestyle also significantly affect behaviour by acting as a strong disincentive to farmers towards working off farm. This may suggest that even if economic returns are greater in the offfarm labour market, farmers may not supply additional labour off farm. We also employed separate models of off-farm labour market participation and off-farm labour supply and found certain variables such as a farm operator’s age and the level of diversification undergone by the farm business affect off farm labour market participation and hours supplied differently.
    • Teagasc National Farm Survey 2016 Estimates

      Dillon, Emma; Moran, Brian; Donnellan, Trevor (Teagasc, 2017-07-26)
      Background Notes: The National Farm Survey (NFS) has been conducted by Teagasc on an annual basis since 1972. The survey is operated as part of the Farm Accountancy Data Network of the EU and fulfils Ireland’s statutory obligation to provide data on farm output, costs and income to the European Commission. A random, nationally representative sample is selected annually in conjunction with the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Each farm is assigned a weighting factor so that the results of the survey are representative of the national population of farms. These preliminary estimates are based on a sub sample of 805 farms which represents 83,377 farms nationally. Farms are assigned to six farm systems on the basis of farm gross output, as calculated on a standard output basis. Standard output measures are applied to each animal and crop output on the farm and only farms with a standard output of €8,000 or more, the equivalent of 6 dairy cows, 6 hectares of wheat or 14 suckler cows, are included in the sample. Farms are then classified as one of the six farm systems on the basis of the main outputs of the farm. Farms falling into the Pigs and Poultry System are not included in the survey, due to the inability to obtain a representative sample of these systems. Due to the small number of farms falling into the Mixed Livestock system these farms are not reported here.
    • Teagasc National Farm Survey Preliminary Estimates 2016

      Dillon, Emma; Moran, Brian (Teagasc, 2017-05-31)
      This presentation provides an overview of the preliminary results of the National Farm Survey for 2016