Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Department of Accounting and Information Systems

First Advisor

Marie Dorgan


With the price of fuel rising and the need for farmers to try and cut costs, and not just variable and the input cost of producing the crop need to be reduced too. It is for this reason that this project is going to focus on direct drilling (DD) vs. conventional tillage (CT) which is the most common system of production in Ireland while also looking into the difference in the costs of establishing each of the two methods. In addition, this project will determine whether or not there are any differences in soil quality and conditions as well as establishing if one system of crop establishment has better yields than the other, as these all play a role in the end of year profit margin. For the purpose of this study, the term direct drilling will be defined as the use of zero tillage and strip tillage for placing a seed straight into a stubble field with no prior cultivation.

From looking at previous studies on this topic, in particular in Europe and around the world, it is apparent that there has been extensive work done in the area of DD. Evidence suggests that not many Irish studies that have been done which looked specifically at DD vs CT. Furthermore this study will use a number of different methods to compile data and come up with a recommendation that is the best way forward for Irish farmers.

After looking at other studies in relation to yields and cost from both systems of production, farmer found that DD has the lowest establishment cost, depending on the ground, it can have the same and in some cases higher yields than CT. The weather can play a big role in the yield of a crop, should there be larger amount of rain fall after drilling this can slow that growth of the crop leaving to a yield reduction come harvest. For this reason keeping flexible with your system has been recommended depending on the year at hand.

With soils being a big factor on tillage farms, this study will look at soil compaction as it plays a big role and has been found to have large effects on the growth and the amount of moisture that is held in the ground which can have a large effect in the drier parts of the world.

The costs involved in tillage farming covers a wide-area from picking the right gear in the tractor when doing field work, to keeping your tractors well maintained, can all cut fuel bills to reduce costs. With the use of DD can half your fuel cost compared with CT. Knowing how to organise your tillage system to reduce road travelling as v,/ell as using tractors that are more fuel efficient, are important factors to consider.

From going through all of the information that was relevant to this study and compiling the information, there is a trend that DD is a better option in certain conditions, depending on the type of soil on the farm. In some cases, it is better for the soil as there is reduced traffic on the ground which also helps to increase soil organic matter in the top few centimetres of the soil. In addition, it has the lowest cost in fuel consumption and reduces the amount of labour needed compared to CT.

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