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Conor Halpin
Journalism intern.
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‘You would not buy a mower this year for £23,000’ – ag contractor (36)

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As part of this week’s Agricultural Contractor of the Week segment, That’s Farming, speaks to Alan Naughton from Naughton Agri, Naughton Agri Hire Limited, and Park Limousin.

Alan Naughton (36) from Ballinasloe, Clontuskert, County Galway, left school at 19-years-old to establish his own contracting business and help his dad on their suckler farm.

In 2017, the Galway native completed his Green Certificate at Mellows Campus in Athenry, with his wife Laura, and together, they have two children, two-year-old, Eabha and five-month-old Fiadh.

In 2005, Alan established Naughton Agri, which has two employees alongside his dad. His first services to offer were slurry, baling, and hedge-cutting.

“When I started, I bought a Same Silver 130. I put that on finance and a Krone 1250 and John Deere 1350 mower,” Alan Naughton told That’s Farming.

“My father helped me a lot out the first few years to get me going. We have a 130-acre farm; it benefited the farm to buy the machinery and save expenses on a contractor and make money from the machinery.”

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From humble beginnings, he completed 4,000 silage bales which today, has grown to 10,000 bales annually. Furthermore, he also offers slurry spreading, dung spreading, harrowing, and hedge-cutting.

“I never really got into tillage, but I bought a disc harrow this year; I probably will buy a plough and power harrow and start reseeding.”

Naughton Agri, New Holland, McHale baler, silage

Tractor fleet

His tractor fleet includes a Case CVX 160, New Holland T7030, New Holland TS115 and a New Holland T690 with a Q760 front loader. Each tractor alluded to is 200 horsepower, has a front linkage, front PTO, 50k box, and airbrakes.

“It is great there are so many Case and New Holland dealers around me to get parts and a great reliable service.”

“I find with Hogan Tractors; if you bring them in a tractor, they have it out in a couple of days. I do most of the work myself; Peter Nee Garage down the road does repairs too.”

Today, Alan owns a McHale Fusion 3 Plus, Kverneland rear and side-mounted disc mowers, Kverneland rake, MAJOR tandem axle 3000-gallon slurry tank (with a tribble bar, Abbey 2500-gallon slurry tank, (with a tribble bar), MAJOR LGP 2500-gallon slurry tank, JOSKIN rear discharge muck spreader.

Other items include a MASKTEK umbilical system with a 10-meter dribble bar, a Redrock and Cross slurry pump, a Staltek U30 3.0m disc harrow, and a McConnell hedge-cutter.

tractors, New Holland, agricultural contracting

Moving with the times

According to Alan, the MASTEK umbilical slurry pipe system alluded to earlier was purchased from MASTEK Ltd in County Cavan this year. He noted due to a high workload for the umbilical system; he may invest in a second one.

Furthermore, he commented that it was evident that he would have to acquire this, and it may become compulsory to have with irrigation and land measures.

“A lot of customers, who were with me from day one, told me if I did not have a pipe system by next year, they would have to get someone else for the winter.”

“The first couple of days were interesting; you would not be long learning from your mistakes; I knew a bit about them and had seen them working, but I was never in the same field as one.”

field, agricultural contracting, agricultural contractor

Naughton Agri Hire Limited

In 2019, Naughton Agri Hire Limited began hiring tractors and machinery. Alan felt it was challenging to get workers for contracting, and he had tractors that needed to earn their value.

“I saw an article in the paper about renting out slurry spreaders and muck spreaders. I said there is nothing to stop me from doing that. So, I put an ad up on Donedeal, and did a bit of advertising.”

He pointed out Longford, Kerry, and Tipperary are places he has hired out tractors and machinery. In the first year of hiring, his tractors and machinery travelled to Derry and Limerick.

“Many people hire slurry tankers and muck spreaders off me; a muck spreader could be anywhere in the country any day. 95% of people will mind tractors very well; there is one or two who have no regard for their tractor or anybody else’s.”

“I bought the disc harrow a few weeks ago for the birdseed cover. Instead of paying a contractor to pull a disc harrow all day, farmers can rent it out for a day at €150 + VAT.”

“I would always be looking at buying more tractors for self-hire. There are always people looking for tractors, and we would not have enough; to know where to draw the line is another thing; you cannot have everything in the yard.”

tractors, Case tractor, machinery

Machinery costs soaring

Looking ahead, Alan is very confident with both businesses and will continue to source more tractors for hiring, which costs an operator €700/week.

He is thankful for his customer base, who have supported him from day one and noted that his family, who are farmers, have been supportive of him.

“Every year machinery goes up; I do not know when it is going to stop. In 1997, you could buy a Fiat 110-90 tractor for £23,000, and a Fiat 110-90 tractor is still worth £23,000, but you would have to give £123,000 to buy a new tractor today.”

“You would not buy a mower this year for £23,000, and if you purchased the same mower next year, it would probably be £22,000.”

“Farmers are becoming more aware of quality silage and getting their soil samples taken and cutting the silage in time, and not leaving it twelve weeks.” the owner of Naughton Agri concluded.

Information

You can find out more information about Naughton Agri Hire Limited here

To share your story, email – Catherina@thatsfarming.com

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