We would prefer to be using these resources for longer-term capital requirements, but at the same time we have to prudent in managing cashflow. At present, this is the only way we see of doing that.
As to the question on pay and pensions, I do not have the comparable figure for international organisations, but my strong view would be, from my knowledge of these organisations, that we are very similar. A research organisation is people-heavy, so to speak. All our research staff would be at PhD level, so there would tend to be on higher grade salaries relative to the rest of the public sector. I do not have the data at present, but bodies like Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, INRA, or Scotland's Rural College, SRUC, Rothamsted in the UK or any of these bodies would have a very similar structure.
On the forestry area, we do not have that information, but I will get that for the committee. We have forests on a lot of our sites. In Moorepark, we have a small forest area around the periphery on the Dungarvan-Lismore Road, and significant forestry in Oak Park. The Deputy is probably aware that a number of years ago the Teagasc authority, with the consent of the Government, handed over a forest and lake area for recreational purposes to the people of Carlow. There is about 50 ha involved in that, but we also have forest on site. We have forest in Ballyhaise and in Johnstown Castle. We conduct a certain amount of research on those activities. We can extract that figure for the Deputy, by site.
On the question of who decides to sell the assets, the process is well set out. During the rationalisation programme that issue obviously came to a head. The management proposed a series of criteria by which assets would be sold. We were dealing with a particular challenging period in the financial history of the country, so there was an absolute necessity to rationalise, which was the context. Management proposed a series of criteria on which, for example, an advisory office would be closed. As one might expect, that included the usage of the office the farmers in the hinterland and the state and age of the office and so on. Then, the authority adopted these criteria, following consultation, and we came forward with a list of properties that were deemed suitable to sell. The authority decided en bloc and stuck with that decision. Given the number of offices we have around the country, it is a very difficult thing to sell even one office. By having a set of criteria, we managed to get buy-in for the entire suite of rationalisation, including the sale of the Kinsealy offices. That was the basis and it had to be approved subsequently by the Ministers.
The Deputy raised a very difficult question on farming by calendar. The popular view among some farmers is that we should move to farming by calendar. One might think that is the sensible way to go. My colleagues, when they have looked at this, found that it can give rise to unexpected implications. It is not as straightforward as it might seem. I believe that the current system, while it has disadvantages, is useful. This year is a good example, where the Minister has been able to exercise flexibility in how it is implemented. We have the best of both worlds. One thing that is very important here is there is at least certainty with the current system. People know exactly on what day they have to cease spreading slurry and what day they can commence. That is useful for a lot of people. If there is a crisis situation, where that does not make sense, one needs the flexibility and, by and large, it has been demonstrated. There a number of ways one could view that issue. I do not think it is entirely straightforward.
On the point I made on the potential to grow grass, it is a massive challenge. It is one our key performance indicators, KPIs, and we track that each year. We have a trend now. While there has been growth in grass utilisation, it has not been as we would have liked. It has grown over the last three or four years, averaging out the extremes. It is a huge puzzle because our research colleagues estimate that every extra tonne of grass utilised is worth about €180 per hectare for a dairy farmer and about €105 for a beef farmer. What are we doing about it?
We have a number of programmes in place in recent years. We have invested a lot in developing a whole methodology for measuring grass. On the front of our report, there is a photograph of colleagues engaged in that activity. We have set up a programme called PastureBase Ireland. This allows us to track grass growth performance right around of the country. With that information, we can benchmark. If one is a farmer in west Tipperary and is interested in what one's colleagues in east Limerick are doing, a comparison can be made with their performance. Benchmarking has proved to be a useful tool to improve performance. That data is published regularly and is very much like a weather map and has been very useful in the last year, in particular, in tracking the impact of the fodder situation, because grass growth diminished particularly during the drought. That is one tool. This is an example of precision agriculture at work in the dairy sector, in particular, although the technology can be used elsewhere. We can learn a huge amount from that information. It is unique worldwide and we are talking to the New Zealanders and the Australians about using that technology. Hopefully, they will buy it off us.
We also have a programme in place to promote the utilisation of grass more aggressively. It is called Grass 10 and we are in the second year of a four year programme. The ten stand for a target of ten tonnes, utilised grass per hectare, which is a little less ambitious than what I said, but it is considered to be a reasonable target. Ten also stands for the number of grazings that we would advocate farmers to conduct during the season, because there is a high correlation between grazings and production and utilisation. That is strongly supported by the Department and is also supported by a number of companies.
The biggest challenge we face as an organisation is to persuade farmers to adopt these kinds of technologies with regard to grass in particular. I will give the committee an example. As I said, there are two main technologies that we have been promoting within Teagasc. One is breeding technology. There has been huge success in this area as we have been working with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, ICBF, and the artificial insemination companies. The adoption of the economic breeding index, EBI, has been very successful, for example. Grassland faces a massive challenge and we have not yet cracked how we can encourage farmers to make the transition to what is clearly in their interests and what is also very important from an environmental point of view.
On the Deputy's final question in respect of disease control, we do not have responsibility in that area. We do have responsibility in respect one dimension or aspect, that of food safety. We do a lot of research around food safety from our Ashtown site, and we are also the national laboratory for the analysis of residues in meat. We liaise with the Department regularly in regard to that area. As far as the general economic diseases are concerned, we work very closely with Animal Health Ireland. That is where we feature. We also work closely with the Department in that area. We have joint programmes under way and we subvent or provide a contribution to the work of Animal Health Ireland to enable it to recruit a technical officer.