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Land Use

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Show Table: 6.1 Ireland: Land use categories 1990-2017

Grassland accounted for 58.5% of total land use in Ireland in 2017, down from an average annual 60.7% in 1990-1994. The area under forest increased from an average annual 7.3% in 1990-1994 to 10.8% in 2017. Land under settlement was 1.7% in 2017.

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Total land cover
Finland73.1071698858215
Sweden68.9229333922565
Slovenia61.9700119864299
Latvia53.9787697385614
Estonia51.3365561917702
Austria46.9057128369164
Slovakia40.3535763554883
Spain36.9362095289658
Luxembourg35.6790110898116
Bulgaria35.3739862856658
Lithuania34.8328586566054
Portugal34.6114238253689
Czech Republic34.5635845635846
Croatia34.3531098001083
Germany32.6912067781085
Italy31.7903032728888
Greece31.6850267740254
France31.2332784422626
Poland30.8834390258091
Romania30.1208283871371
Hungary22.9051154054595
Belgium22.5838846385558
Cyprus18.6872292390633
Denmark14.6992134008841
United Kingdom13.0657628239573
Netherlands11.1783913951771
Ireland11
Malta1.09374998137355

Forestry accounted for 11.0% of Ireland’s total land area in 2016, the second lowest among EU Member States after Malta. Finland had the highest proportion of land area under forest at 73.1% in 2016.

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Show Table: 6.2 Ireland: Organic agricultural land 1997-2017

The area of agricultural land farmed organically in Ireland increased by 192% between 1997-1999 and 2017, when it accounted for 68,500 hectares or 1.5% of the total agricultural land.

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Total agricultural land
Austria22.7605807348298
Estonia20.5158170671847
Sweden19.0464634057756
Italy15.7747528905544
Latvia14.3189612934836
Czech Republic14.2139843676159
Finland11.4576790705297
Slovakia9.94672935039256
Slovenia9.51539855072464
Spain8.93628042997019
Denmark8.63984820603664
Greece8.44468969152401
Lithuania8.18292704237658
Portugal6.96909866294668
Germany 6.81617142467056
Belgium6.38489181130056
France6.28859352913885
Croatia6.14931262729124
Cyprus5.13674197384067
Hungary4.28824529906454
Luxembourg4.15445665445665
Poland3.4349928208929
Netherlands3.04199570246324
Bulgaria2.93742770278696
United Kingdom2.91142402070171
Romania1.97973322303795
Ireland1.49887588341449
Malta0.376838235294118

Land used for organic farming in Ireland accounted for 1.5% of total agricultural land in 2017 – the second lowest percentage among EU Member States. Austria, with 22.8%, had the highest proportion of agricultural land farmed organically in the EU28 in 2017, and Malta the lowest at 0.4%.

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Show Table: 6.3 Ireland: Fertiliser sales 1981-2017

LimeNitrogenPotashPhosphorous
19811348.504275.094149.773562.721
19821591.859280.39775149.3392561.95925
19832212.973304.84875155.3222564.094
19841124.08330.50725162.183566.15925
1985878.416326.4685159.0307564.04175
1986825.831334.97425149.8912560.034
1987824.366363.592163.1117565.02675
1988885.559341.80625157.15163.00075
1989940.616356.5965160.146564.642
1990806.9377.0135156.98464.09
1991716.239367.16625151.43661.837
1992580.911363.22275148.773559.9315
1993812.045385.6915150.046561.08175
1994612.821413.81475146.6257560.583
19951124.08425.849150.9382562.29375
19961100.076407.5555147.121559.89875
1997962.471392.60075130.1647552.8
1998694.501434.72825124.6750.06825
1999870.971434.0865124.970550.2015
2000832.689397.86525118.7422547.8745
2001875.642367.3785106.5622543.24
2002622.499369.65475106.9817542.35975
2003879.741381.69125111.0132543.53925
2004547.263359.935108.1612541.657
2005606.213350.4122598.752538.286
2006579.219339.262590.8442536.0105
2007856.288318.43180.9487530.89875
2008595.926308.421565.2887524.82025
2009698.46314.49857.4582522.232
2010972.577327.1292572.3222528.203
2011819.724295.9802573.857527.9355
2012521.355310.66384.0817529.81225
20131172.029347.728593.045536.6355
2014868.905331.5762593.919535.82575
2015893.73332.9952594.57136.682
2016967.276346.6002598.84238.2795
2017737.116378.9405111.5872543.0165

Total fertiliser sales in Ireland fell from an average annual 2.1 million tonnes in 1981-1984 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2017.

Lime is the most commonly used fertiliser in the State. Sales fell from an average annual 1.6 million tonnes in 1981-1984 to 737,000 tonnes in 2017.

The sale of nitrogen fertilisers in Ireland increased from an average annual 298,000 tonnes in 1981-1984 to 379,000 tonnes in 2017.

Potash fertiliser sales fell from an average annual 154,000 tonnes in 1981-1984 to 112,000 tonnes in 2017. Phosphorous fertiliser sales fell from an average annual 64,000 tonnes in 1981-1984 to 43,000 tonnes in 2017.

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Tonnes per 1,000 hectares agricultural land
Portugal30.0206777808595
Greece51.4709334167906
Austria59.2781520340021
Cyprus60.4134272386353
Romania61.6365843663951
Sweden63.506481499825
Spain63.7900414674196
Italy65.1133285780762
Latvia74.9648509894979
Estonia79.7318043675784
United Kingdom82.1548335094937
Slovakia84.2081183838958
Slovenia85.1655138339921
Finland86.1022399596037
Bulgaria86.4481158647499
Lithuania87.2027959807776
Croatia93.4432281059063
France102.874031658185
Ireland107.641573158314
Hungary108.61222543874
Denmark113.329693739644
Czech Republic118.296877819371
Germany118.803826204012
Poland122.625325558107
Netherlands136.774249419508
Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union176.447245889335

Ireland had the eight highest level of fertiliser sales among EU Member States in 2017 at 107.6 tonnes per 1,000 hectares of agricultural land. The Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union had the highest level of sales at 176.4 and Portugal had the lowest at 30 tonnes per 1,000 hectares of agricultural land.

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Show Table: 6.4 Ireland: Cattle, sheep and pigs June 1980-2018

CattleSheepPigs
19806.90893.29151.0305
19816.74383.40221.0211
19826.72763.57091.0574
19836.80963.86791.0812
19846.80654.07421.0355
19856.81944.48661.004
19866.61635.01181.0029
19876.54475.59510.999
19886.46436.65631.0139
19896.64237.62461.0671
19906.81628.5391.1944
19916.9128.88821.3037
19926.95148.89791.3858
19936.98188.62671.5216
19946.99658.40421.5304
19957.0348.33151.5504
19967.31357.88821.6208
19977.53278.13151.6995
19987.648.3121.8186
19997.3877.92551.7869
20007.03747.5551.7221
20017.04977.33031.743
20026.99227.20961.7845
20036.99956.84891.7262
20047.01566.77721.6531
20056.99186.39221.6877
20066.97785.97321.6432
20076.89095.52161.5878
20086.90215.06141.462
20096.89074.7781.3852
20106.60664.74541.5163
20116.4934.831.549
20126.75415.171.5709
20136.90265.0071.5525
20146.92615.09681.5553
20156.96355.13871.5369
20167.22125.17921.5943
20177.36355.19711.5569
20187.34855.10551.6219

Cattle numbers in Ireland during 1980 to 2018 fluctuated between 6.5 million in 1988 and 7.6 million in 1998. The 2018 figure was 7.3 million, slightly down on the 2017 figure of 7.4 million.

Sheep numbers have fluctuated more widely. In 1980 there were 3.3 million sheep in Ireland. This number peaked in 1992 at 8.9 million. In 2018 there were 5.1 million sheep in the State, down slightly from 5.2 million in 2017.

Pig numbers have increased from 1 million in 1980 to a peak of 1.8 million in 1998. In 2018 there were 1.6 million pigs in the State, slightly higher than in 2017.

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Show Table: 6.5 EU: Cattle and pigs December 2018

In December 2018 Ireland had the fourth highest number of cattle in the EU, with 7.5% of the total. France had the highest proportion of cattle numbers, with 21.2% of the EU total.

Ireland had 1.1% of the total pig population in the EU in December 2018. Spain had the highest proportion of pig numbers in the EU with 20.8% of the total.

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Show Table: 6.6 Ireland: New dwelling completions 2011-2018

The number of new dwelling completions in Ireland increased by 229% from an average annual number of 5,500 units in 2011-2014 to 18,072 in 2018. In 2018, 61% of these units were part of housing schemes, 26% were single houses and 13% were apartments.

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