10 out of 14 of the main types of farming enterprises in Northern Ireland recorded increases in gross margins between 2020/21 and 2021/22, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Northern Ireland Farm Performance Indicator 2021/22.

The results of the performance indicator’s research, the department said, further demonstrate a wide range in farm performance levels in Northern Ireland.

The performance indicator, published today (Thursday, March 2), is the twentieth edition of the annual publication, which is designed to provide farmers with data to assess the performance of their businesses.

The data showed that, for dairy cows, the difference in gross margin/cow between enterprises classified as ‘excellent’ and ‘poor’ equates to £651/cow.

Enterprise data is presented in gross margin format. Included are details of the value of output, variable costs and gross margin for each of the main enterprises found on Northern Irish farms.

For the common farming enterprises, data is presented for four different levels of performance according to gross margin achieved.

These levels are:

  • Excellent;
  • Good;
  • Moderate;
  • Poor.

In addition to enterprise gross margin data, the booklet contains information on hay, silage and grazing costs and average fixed costs by type of farm.

When using the booklet to assess farm enterprise performance, DAERA said: “It is worth keeping in mind that farm output prices and input costs have changed markedly from 2021/22 levels, which will have an impact on the 2022/23 performance indicators for individual enterprises.”


In the farm performance booklet, DAERA said that “benchmarking” has become the “widely accepted” term used when comparing the performance of individual businesses against standards of performance set for their industrial sectors.

Farm accounts from a sample of approximately 350 farms across Northern Ireland are submitted to the Farm Business Survey (FBS) and are processed in gross margin format by DAERA.

Each of the enterprises are then assessed on the basis of either gross margin/head or gross margin/ha.

Then, the performance achieved by producers is classified under one of the four headings, where excellent and good classifications are seen as above average and moderate and poor represent below average performance.

The full Northern Ireland Farm Performance Indicator 2021/22 can be accessed via DAERA’s website.