Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 October 2018

Spreading their wings: Mayo-based farm machinery company building up a loyal customer base in markets from Canada to Australia


Going from strength to strength: AS120-T Agri-Spread spreader
Going from strength to strength: AS120-T Agri-Spread spreader

Chris Mc Cullough

It's been quite a successful year for Co Mayo-based machinery manufacturer Agri-Spread International - the company has just returned home from exhibiting at the world's largest machinery show, Agritechnica.

Agri-Spread's managing director David Murphy was present on the stand with the Australian and North American distributor John Warr.

John farms 22,000 acres near Geraldton in Western Australia and uses Agri-Spread machines in his own business. He said the main advantage of using Agri-Spread spreaders is they can handle all materials including fertiliser, manure, gypsum and lime.

On the Agri-Spread stand at the show in Hanover was the AS130T model, which has a capacity of 11.6 cubic metres and weighs 4.2 tonnes unladen. Earlier in the year, Agri-Spread hosted a group of customers and importers from overseas including some who were visiting Ireland for the first time.

A group of 15 farmers, contractors and importers from Canada joined a similar sized delegation that had flown in all the way from Australia to view for themselves the range of Agri-Spread machines on their home turf.

This is the first time Agri-Spread has hosted such an event for its customers and hopes to organise a similar event in the future.

The visitors spent a week in Ireland viewing the machines, looking at how they are made, and received some of the latest training available outlining the most efficient methods to use the spreaders.

Of course, on top of that, as many of them were visiting Ireland for the first time, they were treated to some Irish hospitality, visiting some of the most scenic locations in the country and sampling some of the best food in the world.

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The group said they were very pleased with their machines, particularly one Canadian contractor who runs six spreaders.

Matt Gosling travelled over from Strathmore, Alberta, in Canada on his first ever trip to Ireland.

He is a contractor running six Terragator TG8400 self-propelled tractors with Agri-Spread AS100 units fitted to them.

Matt spreads 200,000 to 300,000 acres each year in an area stretching to 1,500km north to south and 500km east to west.

"We spread 75pc of those acres from harvest time in mid-August to October just ahead of the big freeze season. The remainder we would spread from March to May," said Matt.

"Once the combines get rolling for the harvest, we start spreading with really only 120 days to do it all in.

"We are super happy with the Agri-Spread spreading units. Before making our purchases we researched the entire market to see which brand could step up and suit our requirements.

"I am very happy we bought the Agri-Spread machines in July 2016. The support and back-up from the company over this past year has been great.

"It's also my first time in Ireland and I really love this country," he added.

Australian farmer Scott Vaessen runs a 3,600 hectare broadacre farm at Riverina in New South Wales.

Even at only 41 years old, Scott has owned and worked this farm for the past 18 years, and grows barley, wheat, oats, canola and field peas.

With temperatures reaching a peak of 45C and dropping to minus 5C in the winter time, Scott battles low rainfalls and must practice efficient farming practices using the moisture in the air, when it's there.

"Our biggest challenge is the lack of rainfall," said Scott. "Our main growing season is April to November and we must farm efficiently using every drop of rainfall we get.

"I run three metre tramlines and work with 12 metre multiples on my machinery to give me maximum widths in the fields.

"I use a John Deere 8370RT as my main tractor and a John Deere 8220 on the sprayer which extends to 36 metres' boom width." Scott operates an Agri-Spread AS120 spreader on a single axle and is now in his second season of using it.

"I am well pleased with the spreader. I needed a machine that spread the fertiliser 36 metres equally and thanks to the persistence of the Agri-Spread guys, they achieved that goal for me," he said.

Kerry Eitzen hails from Linden in Alberta where he runs a custom spreading operation and manages his own chicken farm.

He runs two Agri-Spread AS150T machines which each cover 25,000 acres per year spreading Biosol, which is a sulphur-based slow release fertiliser.

"We pull the Agri-Spread 15-tonne machines with 360 horsepower New Holland T8 front-assist tractors," said Kerry.

"The furthest we have travelled to a customer is 550km, but he had 9,000 acres to do. This is our second season using the Agri-Spread machines and they are head and shoulders above the competition.

"It was actually a friend of mine who sells them that pestered me to demo an Agri-Spread machine and thank goodness he was persistent," he said.

"I've stayed up in Northern Ireland before in Portstewart and went to see the North West 200 motorcycle race.

"After that, I travelled some of the west coast and really love this place," said Kerry.

Ben Kirkby runs a broadacre farm near Moree in New South Wales and runs an Agri-Spread AS120 spreader.

"We grow barley, chickpeas and wheat on 6,000 hectares and carry out some contracting too," he said.

"Temperatures rise to 43C where I'm from so we are also short of some rainfall as well.

"We spread fertiliser during one pass before seeding and perhaps a later top dressing if the crop requires it.

"I use a Case IH 380 tractor to pull the spreader and a Case IH Steiger 500 rowtrac tractor as well. The Agri-Spread spreader is superb for my purposes and it has proven to be a good investment.

"This is my first time in Ireland, it's very green so I see you guys have no problem with low rainfall. Have to say I love the place," he said.


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Agri-Spread International was founded over 10 years ago in 2006 by Mark Murphy and is based in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo.

Since that time, the company has developed into one of the leading manufacturers of spreaders capable of handling fertiliser, lime and other materials.

The 24,000 square foot factory was purpose built and houses some of the latest technology for cutting, bending, welding and spraying procedures, ensuring the final product is the best quality it can be.

The company, now headed up by Mark's son David, currently exports to over 12 countries and has set a goal to increase the number of international markets in the future.

Agri-Spread says it aims to become a leader in the fertiliser and lime spreading sector by increasing home and export sales for its products.

Some of the more recent developments Agri-Spread has come up with include a rate controller for trailed spreaders which is now leading the way in trailed spreader applicators.

The product range includes fertiliser and lime spreaders with single and tandem axles, plus a series of rear discharge spreaders.

Agri-Spread also manufactures a range of spreaders that attach to trucks or indeed the self-propelled Terragator tractor units made by Agco.

Customers can specify exactly the spreading unit they require for their own particular truck and Agri-Spread will manufacture the spreader to suit.

The majority of Agri-Spread's machines are destined for the UK and overseas markets with only around 15 smaller machines sold in the Irish market on an annual basis.

Customers have regularly praised the company for its super attention to detail and the excellent back-up service it offers.

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