Spiralling diesel costs have led to higher contracting charges across the country, a survey by the Farming Independent has revealed.
Silage-making charges have been hit by the biggest increase, with prices up by 15pc on average over the past 12 months.
As ever, there is a significant spread in quotes. These are included in the table, right, all prices include VAT. The lowest quotes were in Leinster, where the average was €118/ac, compared to €129/ac in both Connacht and Munster. The two lowest prices quoted were in Kildare and Westmeath at €102/ac and €110/ac respectively.
This compares to quotes of over €147/ac in both Mayo and Kerry. Meath contractor Peter Farrelly has claimed that diesel costs had increased by €20/ac this year.
This was due to higher prices and heavier usage because of poor weather during the harvest and the wet weather.
Fertiliser-spreading costs were also up by over 13pc to an average of €35/t. Again, there was a huge variation, from just €14/t in Kerry to €50/t in Galway.
Baling and wrapping charges were higher too by nearly 9pc. The average price to get a 4x4 round-bale wrapped stands at just over €9.
The best baling value was in Leinster with, with charges per bale ranging from as little as €5.50 per bale in Wexford and Westmeath. Quotes for double this were supplied from contractors in the neighbouring county of Meath, while contractors in Monaghan, Sligo and Cork were seeking €12.50-13.50/bale. With the maize harvest just around the corner, many farmers will be curious about the going rate for getting their crop saved. Bucking the trend for higher than average prices in many other operations, Connacht threw up a number of very keen quotes for maize harvesting at €110/ac.
This compares to quotes of up to €160/ac in Cork, although the average for the country was closer to €120/ac. Other costs that farmers will be keenly aware of at this time of the year are ploughing charges, which have remained relatively stable at €41/ac on average. This varies from a low of €30/ac in Wexford to more than €60/ac in Kerry.
Hedge-cutting charges are also holding fairly steady at €46/hr. The best quote was sourced in Sligo at €35/hr, while Kerry is, once again, the most expensive at €62/hr.
Fertiliser spreading is averaging €34/t, while combining remains at €55/ac on average. Not all contracting charges are on the increase, despite record high fuel prices.
Quotes for spraying were down by over 10pc, with a national average of €10/ac. Again, Leinster quotes were keenest, with the best prices on offer in Kildare, where farmers are being asked for €6/ac.
Slurry-spreading charges were also down marginally, with a national average of €47/hr.
Western and northern counties offer the best value for this task, with contractors there regularly quoting under €40/hr and a best quote of €30/hr in Roscommon. The average was closer to €56/hr in Munster, where the spread ranged from €50-59/hr.
The advice for farmers looking for contractors is to choose fully insured operators who are members of either the Professional Agricultural Contractors association (PAC) or Farm Contractors Ireland (FCI).