The addition of three top spec Fendt 720 tractors is a serious upgrade to the fleet of Bryan Brothers contractors in Conna, Co Cork.
The new 200hp tractors were supplied by local Fendt dealers, Atkins Farm Machinery of Cork, and the new arrivals take this impressive outfit's total tally of Fendt tractors to six units.
The brand new 201-plated Fendts have been immediately put to work on slurry-spreading duties for the busy team, with spring work now underway in earnest.
Bryan Brothers specialise in silage and slurry contracting services. Alan Bryan says the team operates around a 30-mile radius from their east Cork base for long-term customers in the likes of Fermoy, Dungarvan, Mitchelstown, Glanmire and Tallow.
The tractor fleet has changed significantly since 2015. At one point, the fleet consisted of all John Deeres and just one Fendt, but there has been a gradual overhaul after the team were left seriously impressed with the fuel efficiency and specification level of Fendt tractors, as well as the back-up service provided by Atkins.
The official figures on fuel use for Fendt tend to back up the Bryan Brothers' claim. In official DLG PowerMix measurements during mixed work, the 720 Vario delivers 258g/kWh, which is 11pc lower than the average.
"We were actually John Deere exclusively up until 2015," says Alan. "A few years back, we had a fleet of two 6830s, three 6930s, a 7530 and a 6170R. We priced both the John Deere and the Fendt in 2015 and we have found that while there was little difference in price, the Fendt has saved us a lot of money on diesel consumption, so we've stuck with them.
"Diesel is a huge thing for all contractors, it is a massive overhead, so anything that can be down to reduce fuel costs is a positive. When people think of Fendt, they often think of the high initial cost of the tractor, but in our experience, this is a tractor that doesn't let you down. They are not cheap, but when we sat down and worked it out in terms of dependability, running costs and warranty, for us it was a no-brainer," he adds.
"The staff love driving Fendts as well because they are the ultimate tractor and feature cutting-edge technology. Some drivers can be a bit intimidated by a Fendt tractor given the amount of technology in the cab, but after a few days driving, they become quite intuitive."
The Bryan Brothers are blessed to be in an area straddling east Cork and west Waterford that happens to have very good tractor and machinery dealerships. They have dealt with most local dealers in the area, whether it is Atkins of Cork, Jim Power Agri of Tallow or, indeed, McCarthy Agri in Carrigtwohill.
All come in for praise from the Bryan Brothers for their professionalism and strong after-sales support. Key services provided by Alan and Stuart Bryan include slurry spreading, ploughing, both pit and baled silage, and maize harvesting. They run one of the most modern fleet of machines in the southeast.
Aside from the six Fendts and one JCB Fastrac for silage harvesting, the team runs a new Big X harvester and a McHale Fusion 3 bale wrapper combination. Another new addition for this year is a Volvo L110H loader purchased from Pat O'Donnell's that Alan says he will be using on the pit.
Interestingly, they spread most of their slurry using an umbilical piping system that customers have become very happy with.
They still spread some slurry with a tanker system if required, but in a challenging year, the umbilical system has numerous benefits when it comes to difficult ground conditions.
Bryan Brothers employ up to six staff during peak times and take pride in the fact that a lot of their team are long-term workers who are tried and trusted.
"Whether full time or seasonal, most of them have been with us for a long time and come back year after year," says Alan.
The same can be said for customers, and the team say that feedback they have gotten from clients about their recent additions to the machinery fleet has been very positive.
"I think our customers recognise that we are investing in the fleet in order to give an even better service to them," says Alan.
"We want the latest machinery and tractors in order to minimise breakdowns and maximise reliability for our customers. The very odd time you might get someone who doesn't wish you well or who begrudges you, but my motto there would be you may as well let that customer go anyway.
"Thankfully, I'm glad to say we get a lot of repeat business - and they are all good customers who we value and have built up a relationship with over the years."
Every single machine or tractor in the fleet is maintained to peak condition.
"We have a fully qualified mechanic here and we do all our maintenance ourselves in-house," says Alan. "During down season, we take time to get machines prepared for spring because that gives you the best chance when things get busy. Of course, the new Fendt tractors come with a full warranty and Atkins looks after that."
Bryan Brothers is very much a family-oriented business. It was the lads' father, George, who first got into contracting many years ago.
Carrying out small contracting jobs for neighbouring farmers, their father worked hard to build up the business and managed to provide for a family of seven.
The brothers both think this is probably how they became interested in contracting and the rest, as they say, is history.
Before they went out on their own, however, they wisely opted to get as much experience as possible working for someone else.
"We went working with a tillage farmer in Watergrasshill, where we did one or two years," Alan explains. "It was around 1993 then when we bought our first machine, a Pottinger Silage Harvester, and we started from there. After that, we went to a 5830 John Deere harvester, to a 68, to a 6950 to a 75, a 75-50 and finally to the Krone Big X harvester that we use today," he adds.