The number of farms on the market rose last year, while the number of acres for sale was also higher as well as the amount of land sold.

The Irish Farmers Journal's annual Agricultural Land Price Report show that the average price per acre increased by almost 3% to €12,288.

This marked the first time that the average price broke €12,000 per acre since the Celtic Tiger.

Business buyers were the biggest purchasers of farmland. This category includes business owners, investors and farmers with substantial off-farm income.

"Over half of the parcels of land that were bought last year would have been bought by full-time farmers, and that left a smaller share bought by the other category which we would call business-type farmers," said Paul Mooney, author of the Land Report.

"They would include business people living in rural areas and part-time farmers with off-farm jobs and off-farm income," he added.

Dairy farmers acquired 26% of farms and holdings that sold last year. One of the reasons dairy farmers were actively chasing extra land was due to imminent nitrates rules which means they will require significant additional land to avoid cutting cow numbers.

"The most intensive farmers will be under pressure to acquire additional land in 2023 and 2024 because of new standards that are coming in to protect water quality," Mr Mooney said.

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"To put numbers on that, around 3,500 of the most intensive farmers face either acquiring extra land or else they will have to reduce the size of their herds. Reducing the size of their herds will cut their family income and could make some operations non-viable so therefore the tendency will be to try to acquire extra land," he added.

Rising inflation pushed more investors to look at putting their cash into land, rather than leaving it sitting in the bank.

The buoyant market was confirmed by the sale of a number of high-value stud farms and country estates.

According to today's report, some of the best farms were bought by farmers who sold land on the edge of expanding towns, who now have financial firepower and who want to reinvest in farmland.

At a county level, the most expensive farmland was in Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Wicklow and Kilkenny. The least expensive land was in counties Leitrim, Cavan, Sligo, Longford and Mayo.

The province with the most expensive land is Leinster where the average is €13,776 per acre, followed by Munster where the average is €12,860 per acre.

After that is Ulster (excluding Northern Ireland) with an average of €10,519 and finally Connacht with an average of €8,170 per acre.

The report also finds an emerging trend of buying for nature not for farming.

"A small number of the business type people who bought land last year, for example, were doing so with environmental aims in mind," Mr Mooney said.

"They maybe bought small parcels of marginal land to rewild it, to allow the native woodland that might be there already to grow and protect it for the future because it's something they believe in," he said.

"They are not buying it for commercial reasons. The numbers are small but we do see that as growing," he added.