Offering an alternative to kingdom contracting
In the challenging soils of Co Kerry, one contractor puts out his services to grassland farmersOffering an alternative to kingdom contracting
Venturing into contracting about 10 years ago, John O'Donovan, from Madamshill near Killarney, Co Kerry, now provides several services from silage to slurry and more for farmers in the surrounding area. John and his wife, Marie, run their contracting business alongside their dairy farming enterprise, milking around 70 cows on their farm.
"There is very little tillage down here, some in North Kerry alright, but farming is mostly drystock and dairying in this part of Kerry," said John. "A lot of the country is hilly around here but we are used to managing it. It's a technique in itself."
Some of this terrain, according to John, "would be stony, gravely country which would have great soakage". This soil structure has good load-carrying capabilities, but John still uses low ground-pressure tyres on his equipment to "minimise compaction because compaction restricts growth".
"There was a lot of work done this year, catching up on the previous two years," said John. The good overall weather this year was also reflected in the Kingdom, which, as John said, "was a good year on growth and grass, ideal for reseeding and there was a lot of reseeding to be done". This provides its own challenge in some of the gravelly areas. Well used to the terrain, though, John offers an additional contracting service to overcome the 'stony' problem.
Where reseeding is required in these gravely areas, John can provide a stone-raking service in addition to ploughing and power harrowing/drilling. Using a Kverneland stone rake, he can comb stones of around two inches or more in diameter out of the ground.
"Work rates vary from place to place depending on conditions, so we charge by the hour for this service," John said. A down side to the gravely conditions, though, is that it is very abrasive -- as John said, it is "hard on wear on the plough, power harrow and everything [that engages the ground]".
Silage baling and wrapping is one of the main services that John provides. Mowing is with two trailed 3m Kuhn mowers, one equipped with a grouper. All the baling and wrapping is done with a McHale Fusion combination baler wrapper.