Have you worked out how much your pit silage is going to cost this year? The final cost will be strongly linked to diesel prices and contractor charges.
This week at the pumps, farmers and contractors are paying on average €780, including VAT, per thousand litres of agri diesel. Compared to last summer, the price of diesel has increased by five per cent, when one thousand litres of diesel cost €750, including VAT.
In general, farmers can expect to see the higher fuel prices passed on in contractor charges, so they should be budgeting appropriately. The Farm Contractors Association of Ireland (FCI) say precision-chop silage will be guide-priced at €115 plus VAT into the pit.
It's important to remember that farmers can often avail of slightly cheaper rates from their contractor for upfront payment for works done. Not everyone can afford to pay upfront, but if you can, it is often worthwhile as most contractors offer a discount.
It can be possible to knock €10 an acre off the quoted price if the farmer pays the contractor at the gate.
If you have 50 acres of silage, that comes to a €500 saving.
For farmers, an important tip is to walk your silage ground before letting the contractor on site. This really is in your own interests because many contractors are using self-propelled mowers and harvesters worth north of €250,000.
Stray objects like fencing posts or wire can cause huge damage and will lead to added bills for breakdowns.
The silage-making process is the most fuel-demanding process in agriculture, and it is diesel price that is pushing up the cost of making silage. In Ireland, this important harvesting operation is almost exclusively managed by agricultural contractors on behalf of their farmer customers.
Silage is a big killer for diesel bills because it's such a power-hungry job. Even a modestly sized contracting outfit can very quickly run up a fuel bill of €2,200-€2,500 per day.
A high output 10 acres per hour mowing combination will burn almost two litres of diesel per acre, while combination balers are now also burning close to two litres of diesel per bale. Larger self-propelled silage harvesters are burning in the region of 10-12 litres per acre.
According to the FCI, a set of typical fuel consumption rates for a high output and efficient silage harvesting outfit in Ireland, harvesting 100 acres per day, would look as set out in the tables below.