'A tractor nowadays is about €150,000.....We’re seeing a lot of contractors chucking it all in'

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

From investing in new technologies to inclement weather, contractors at the recent Professional Agricultural Contractors of Ireland conference voiced the most pressing issues facing their businesses this spring.

Michael Sheehan, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

“We bought an umbilical slurry spreading system a couple of weeks ago and last year we bought bale-handling equipment and a new tractor.

“You need to be careful about what you’re buying and have the market well researched. A tractor now­adays is about €150,000. Up to about 10 years ago, we could make a profit and it wasn’t a dirty word.

"In the last 10 years, the margins have been squeezed considerably. It’s getting to the stage where there are a lot of contractors chucking it in.”

John Graves, Dundrum, Co Tipperary

“Field condi­tions are our biggest problem. We can’t get on the land at the moment and until that improves, we’re not going to get anywhere. It bundles all the work together and puts more pressure on down the line.

“I use GPS for a fertiliser spreader and I used yield mapping on a silage harvest­er in 2006 and 2007 but I packed it in. Customers were happy to get the informa­tion, but they didn’t want to pay any extra. There was no financial benefit for me.”

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Dessie Cunningham, Carrickmacross, Monaghan

“My son was trying to invest in a new piping system. I bought one in 1994 and he’s using that now.

“He went to buy a new system and went to the bank and had no problem previously getting funding, but the bank told him that there was no equity in that piece of equipment. He felt aggrieved.

“If he had land or a herd number, he would get a grant and would have no problems, and he’s going to lose work over this. It’s so unfair.”

Clifford Roe, Ballacolla, Co Laois

“The weath­er always has a part to play and it’s been very bad since last Septem­ber. I bought a new tractor. I spent €180,000 on a John Deere 6175R.

“Today is informative of the way to go forward and how far technology has gone compared to how it was before. My first sprayer was a 10ft sprayer, now it’s 21m (69ft). I reckon the technol­ogy will pay for itself in the year.”

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