Following on from its farmer survey in the spring in which over 800 farmers participated, AgriSearch has launched an autumn survey to assess the impact of surging input costs on Northern Ireland’s farms.

In collaboration with the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), the aim of this survey is to understand what steps farmers have taken/plan to take to mitigate against rising costs, as well as their future plans to build resilience into their business to buffer against extreme price volatility.

The survey is aimed at farmers from all sectors to understand their buying behaviour for inputs such as feed and fertiliser this year, as well as farmers' plans for future purchases for the winter and 2023 growing season.

The survey also looks at application rates and feeding rates to understand how farmers have been using inputs on farm compared to previous years and how increasing costs have forced behavioural change.

With the increased input costs, the survey aims to quantify how many farmers have taken steps to improve utilisation and management of on farm resources such as manure from livestock through more targeted application, precision application, or slurry testing, or improving grassland management through lime application, reseeding, introduction of clover and improving grazing management.

The survey also aims to determine the quantity and quality of silage made this year to understand the feeding strategy of farmers as winter approaches.

With the dry weather that has been experienced in the east, some farmers have had to begin feeding silage that had been intended for winter feeding to livestock due to restricted grass growth.

The survey aims to examine how the current weather events have impacted on winter fodder stocks, and understand if farmers have adequately prepared for the winter period by ensuring they have enough winter forage available through carrying out a fodder budget.