Almost half of Irish farmers over the age of 50 have no identified successor, according to the findings of a survey.

Delegates at Macra na Feirme's annual three-day conference in Waterford were given details of the "Land Mobility and Transfer" study.

It was carried out by the organisation in conjunction with the Irish Farmers' Association and the Irish Farmers Journal.

The survey was conducted among more than 400 full-time farmers over 50 years of age, with 48% saying they had no identified successor.

Macra na Feirme National President Alan Jagoe said solutions for the huge number of farmers without identified successors must be identified.

"While it is widely acknowledged that the fundamental issue of farm viability is a major concern for many farmers, nonetheless, farm families must be encouraged to discuss and plan for succession," he said.

The conference is expected to attract a total of 2,500 young farmers and Macra na Feirme members from across Ireland throughout the weekend.

It was officially opened by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney last night.

Once fully completed, the findings of the study will be analysed by Macra na Feirme, the IFA and the Irish Farmers Journal.