“Agricultural subcontracting is sufficiently stable” –
As part of this week Agricultural Entrepreneur of the Week Segment, It’s agriculture, Gareth Peoples profiles from Tullyannon Agri. He discusses the hauling / stacking of over 8,000 bales, combining 350 acres of barley, difficulty finding workers and GPS technology.
Gareth Peoples of Newtowncunningham “fell to his feet” when an opening for plowing, reseeding and bale stacking occurred in his community.
The Donegal farm entrepreneur runs a veal-to-beef processing business with his father, Derek. The father and son team raises 100 Frisian calves, slaughtering them at 24 months.
The farm spans 220 acres, divided between meadows, crops and 10 acres of forests.
Gareth Peoples said It is agriculture:
“Many of my friends are farm entrepreneurs, and their fathers were always entrepreneurs. So I always spent summers with them silage.
“We have always had a good selection of tractors and machines. I started with the machines I had, for example power harrows, plows, seeders and sprayers. I kept them in good condition.
Gareth also gained invaluable experience with Jimmy Rankin of Clune Potatoes.
“I worked with him for three seasons before I got too busy myself. I rented a tractor from his business for two seasons, doing some stalk planting prep work and season before I worked there.
In 2012, Gareth formed Tullyannon Agri with a fleet of tractors including a Ford 7740 and a New Holland T8360.
“My tractors could do more work than we did with them on the farm. I started the business from there and have taken on a few new clients every year since.
“Initially, we had no financial machinery. I guess we then went for a better single pass system, combines, new tractors, and we had to find funding. “
“I had a great helping hand with our tractors that were there at the start. We have upgraded to a New Holland TM140 and a brand new New Holland T6180 tractor this year.
“In 2016, we traded in the Ford 7740 for a New Holland T6020. The New Holland T6020 was sold last year for the New Holland T6180 which we bought earlier this year.
“We repair most of our tractors, but any major breakdown is reported to Cowan Bros, the nearby New Holland dealer. Two tractors have done 1,200 hours this year. There are over 1,500 hours per year on some of our tractors.
Other items include two Kverneland four-furrow reversible plows, Kuhn one-pass system, CASE MM800 18M mounted sprayer, Einbock 6M planter, LELY fertilizer seed drill, two Marston 10T grain trailers, Tolmet 3M disc harrow and a Kuhn rotary harrow.
It also has a McConnel PA550 hedge trimmer, Agrimaster mulcher, Keltec boot cutter, JCB 526-60 telehandler, JCB 536-60 telehandler, Eurospec low loader, New Holland 8055 combine harvester and New Holland TC56 combine harvester.
The company has invested in GPS technology to perform its fertilizer and spraying services.
“We do a lot of meadow spraying for mooring and reseeding, and you can’t miss it. If you messed up, you’re embarrassed. So you want to be specific.
Agricultural subcontracting services
Tullyannon Agri offers services such as spraying, fertilizer spreading, harrowing, plowing, seeding, combine, bale stacking, mulching and hedge trimming.
The company employs one full time worker and serves fifty customers within a 20 mile radius of Newtowncunningham.
“I completed 500 acres of reseeding this year, seeded 300 acres of barley, and combined 350 acres of barley. 100 acres of that would be our own barley.
“At first we only reseeded 40 to 50 acres of land. It has grown 50 acres each year, but this year it has almost grown by 200 acres. “
“People are reseeding because they are looking to get better quality of their grass and gain in live weight from the cattle. So getting a better return from your farm seems like the way to go. “
“A big problem in my area is that many farmers are aging. They don’t want to buy machines and don’t have help with the job, so it’s more convenient for them to get us in.
“I don’t supplement in-pit silage or round bales, but we haul and stack 8,000 round bales a year with our bale pusher. We are helping five other agricultural contractors who are completing the baling.
According to Gareth, finding “qualified drivers who can do a good job and keep the name of the company intact” is a tall order.
“Machines are getting more expensive and more difficult to upgrade, and you have to try to get it right. “
“The price of everything is always on the rise. Fuel prices were good at the start of the year, but they are back to where they were.
“The weather is another of our biggest challenges. The working window is reduced each year. When you get a window to work here in Donegal, you take it.
“I have a lot of top notch clients. You may need to keep some customers until mid-October, when their basic payment system goes into effect.
Gareth explained earlier that he found it difficult to hire workers. He has described the qualities he looks for in an employee below.
“I like a person’s honesty and self-confidence. If someone can’t do a job or hasn’t done a job before, I’d rather have them tell me; I can explain to them.
“Whereas if somebody says I can do this job and this job and you send them to do it, they can’t; it’s the worst.
“Pleasure is also difficult to bring to a team. Someone who is ready for the craic and for the job.
“The key parts of the business would be if you tell a farmer you’re going to be there at a certain point, or if you can’t do a job for a farmer, tell them you can’t do it; your word goes before you.
Looking ahead, Gareth hopes to welcome his son, Thomas, into the business, buy a hedge trimmer / sprayer next season, switch to a New Holland T8140 tractor, and work with a nearby contractor.
“I would like to see more young blood in the agricultural subcontracting sector. There are a lot of old people participating and they are slowing down. “
“The agricultural contracts are stable enough and as long as the farmer earns a few pounds, everything will be fine. “
“But, if it turns out that the farmer is not making money, we start to worry. We are the first not to get the money back, ”the agricultural entrepreneur concluded.
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