At a Glance...

Agriculture, animal and plant resources

Often the first thing though of when one hears Agriculture is farming. There’s more to it than that, agriculture is involved in many aspects of our lives to the clothes we wear and the food and drink we consume.

Horticulture is a major part of the Irish economy and has a wide field of careers like yield control, quality improvement, and working on resistance to disease and pests

Around 4.2 million hectares of land in Ireland is used for the purpose of agriculture. Over half of the total agricultural output is in beef and milk production. The 130,000 farms in the country produce enough food each year to feed 36 million people.

Agriculture isn’t just farming. It’s also responsible for the cotton, wool and leather in much of the clothes we wear as well as the food and drinks we consume. The sector is worth €24 billion to the national economy.

Tillage farming is the providing of feed to livestock farms and raw materials for malting, milling, sugar, and breakfast cereals. This area employs 11,000 growers and another 15,000 in food processing. This area is expected to grow over the coming years with expansion planned by Maltsters and an increasing demand for oats.

Dairy farming is hugely significant in Ireland and is expected to grow exponentially by 2020. The removal of milk quotas is a huge opportunity and means that current farmers can increase the size of their herds, requiring more assistants to work on the farm.

Horticulture is the careful, precise and scientific cultivation of plants. Workers in the industry undergo research in the areas of plant propagation, crop production, plant breeding, biochemistry, and plant physiology. In particular, work is carried out on fruits, berries, nuts, vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs and turf. Horticulturists work with the goals of improving the yield and quality of crops and their resistance against insects, disease and environmental issues.

Amenity Horticulture is a subset that is responsible for parks and gardens. Often it begins with the design and construction of a recreational area like a park or wildlife garden and a horticulturist is then responsible for the maintenance of the area.

Commercial Horticulture is responsible for the growing and selling of crops used for both food and fuel, as well as ornamental and decorative plants. In food production, the growing of potatoes and mushrooms are the two largest areas of the sector in terms of employment.

Bord Bia

Bord Bia provides quality assurance schemes for the following product sectors: beef, lamb, dairy, pigmeat, poultry, eggs and horticulture.

The promotion of quality standards within the edible horticulture sectors is a key activity for Bord Bia. This programme assists the horticultural industry establish, maintain and develop quality assurance standards in order to sustain consumer confidence in fresh produce and satisfy the requirements of the various market outlets. Quality standards have been developed and inspection and certification systems established for producers, packers and preparers of produce.


Teagasc is the agriculture and food development authority in Ireland. Its mission is to support science-based innovation in the agri-food sector and the broader bioeconomy that will underpin profitability, competitiveness and sustainability.

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