Cutting no corners - Tipp contractors proving why diversification is essential to stay in the game for the long haul
It sums up the bizarre nature of silage season 2018 when many contractors are still working away at silage. Perhaps even more strangely, reports suggest third cut yields are easily surpassing second cut in many parts of the country.
I recently visited Moloney Agri, a family-run contracting outfit based in Clogheen, Co Tipperary. The business is an agricultural contracting and tree care company formed over 45 years ago by founder and present owner Jim Moloney. Jim and his son Thomas are the current company directors.
The main services provided by the team include baling and wrapping silage, slurry spreading, baling straw and small square bales of hay, saw and flail hedge cutting and fertiliser spreading using GPS guidance systems. There is also the recent addition of another service using a tracked excavator doing general farm maintenance. All of this is done while running a small dry stock herd on the home farm in Clogheen.
The spread of customers Moloney Agri has sums up the level of diversification into various areas the company has developed in the last 20 years. For example, the tree surgery and hedge cutting care side of the business has customers of all types, ranging from the landowner with a few acres to contracts with large semi state companies such as Irish Rail. Offering a range of services is important to the Tipp team, who see it as a way of spreading their workload out during the year.
When I visited, the Moloneys were busy finishing their own second cut silage. Their farm is found near the village of Clogheen and is overlooked by the picturesque Knockmealdown Mountains. Investment in new machinery is accepted by this outfit as being crucial for maintaining performance and customer confidence. That said, the benefits and cost of each new machine purchase are carefully considered before a decision is made; if a cleaner or cheaper second-hand model will suffice rather than a brand new machine, then so be it.
The team runs an impressive fleet of 12 New Holland tractors, with a big focus on buying good value tractors whether it be good clean second-hand or new models. Eight of the tractors were purchased new. They do the servicing in-house as much as possible. Tractors are generally not replaced for a minimum of ten years or longer.
On the silage front the Moloney team run two round balers, both Lely-Welger models, one of which is an RPC 245 Tornado combined baler-wrapper machine. The combi baler has been performing very well and is now in its fourth season. It was bought new from William Carroll of Cashel. The combination baler is usually hitched up to the 2009-registered New Holland T6080 tractor, another fresh-looking tractor for its age.
The other baler is a standalone Lely Welger 245 baler but it is often hooked up with an in-line HS2000 McHale wrapper with steering axle bought in 2003. A 2000-registered TM125 is the tractor of choice for this line up.