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Land Use

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Show Table: 6.1 Ireland: Land use categories 1990-2018

Grassland accounted for 58.4% of total land use in Ireland in 2018, down from 61.0% in 1990. The area under forest increased from 6.8% in 1990 to 10.9% in 2018. Land under settlement was 1.8% in 2018.

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CountryTotal 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% 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 1997-2018

The area of agricultural land farmed organically in Ireland increased by 257% between 1997 and 2018, when it accounted for 66,700 hectares or 1.4% of the total agricultural land.

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CountryTotal agricultural land
Estonia17.9381938569832
Sweden17.7061499957076
Czech Republic13.5410872784243
Italy12.3215848726619
Latvia11.5488464733826
Finland10.4355895341575
Slovakia9.20793432933146
Slovenia8.57810441370224
Spain8.28202051311104
Lithuania7.48159021406728
Denmark7.15844449365107
Greece6.52187251635857
Belgium5.85151770012998
France5.41387476238697
Portugal5.36295958633454
Luxembourg3.91254578754579
Hungary3.67467550874902
Croatia3.64383910386965
Cyprus3.44644653800421
Netherlands3.20496652359586
Poland2.52302067957587
United Kingdom2.49015422752581
Bulgaria1.8093116660288
Ireland1.43820383308633
Romania1.31430737945059
Malta0.340073529411765

Land used for organic farming in Ireland accounted for 1.4% of total agricultural land in 2018 – the third lowest percentage among EU Member States. Estonia, with 17.9%, had the highest proportion of agricultural land farmed organically in the EU28 in 2018, and Malta the lowest at 0.3%.

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Show Table: 6.3 Ireland: Fertiliser sales 1981-2018

YearLimeNitrogenPotassiumPhosphorous
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
20181028.696398.21225118.7722545.45825

Total fertiliser sales in Ireland fell from 1.8 million tonnes in 1981 to 994,000 tonnes in 2008. In 2018 it was 1.6 million tonnes.

Lime is the most commonly used fertiliser in the State. Sales fell from 1.3 million tonnes in 1981 to 1.0 million tonnes in 2018.

The sale of nitrogen fertilisers in Ireland increased from 275,000 tonnes in 1981 to 398,000 tonnes in 2018.

Potassium fertiliser sales fell from 150,000 tonnes in 1981 to 119,000 tonnes in 2018.

Phosphorous fertiliser sales fell from 63,000 tonnes in 1981 to 45,000 tonnes in 2018.

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CountryTonnes 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 108 tonnes per 1,000 hectares of agricultural land. The Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union had the highest level of sales at 176 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 1980-2019

YearCattleSheep Pigs
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
20187.34855.10931.6219
20197.20865.14581.616

Cattle numbers in Ireland during 1980 to 2019 fluctuated between 6.5 million in 1988 and 7.6 million in 1998. The 2019 figure was 7.2 million, slightly down on the 2018 figure of 7.3 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 2019 there were 5.1 million sheep in the State, up by 0.7% from 2018.

Pig numbers increased from 1.0 million in 1980 to a peak of 1.8 million in 1998. In 2019 there were 1.6 million pigs in the State, down slightly on 2018.

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Show Table: 6.5 EU: Cattle and pigs December 2019

In December 2019 Ireland had the joint fourth highest number of cattle in the EU, with 7.6% of the total. France had the highest proportion of cattle numbers, with 21.0% of the EU total.

Ireland had 1.1% of the total pig population in the EU in December 2019. Spain had the highest proportion of pig numbers in the EU with 21.1% of the total.

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Show Table: 6.6 Ireland: New dwelling completions 2011-2019

The number of new dwelling completions in Ireland declined by 34.6% from 6,994 units in 2011 to 4,575 units in 2013. By 2019 the figure had increased to 21,138. In 2019, 59% of these units were part of housing schemes, 24% were single houses and 17% were apartments.

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