As part of this week’s Agricultural Contractor of the Week segment, That’s Farming, speaks to Anthony Reynolds from Reynolds Agri. We discuss the impact CAP will have on farmers and contractor’s doorsteps and the difficulty contractor’s face with increasing machinery and fuel costs.
Reynolds Agri, in Edgeworthstown, County Longford, is in business for over 80 years. Anthony’s grandfather, Pat Reynolds, first founded the company in the 1940s.
In the mid-1990s, Anthony Reynolds took over Reynolds Agri, whom he runs with his wife, Sylvia, from his parents, Tom, and Kathleen.
Anthony, an experienced ploughman, has often represented his county on serval occasions in ploughing competitions and has brought home national titles. In 2017, he represented the Emerald Isle at the Five Nation’s Ploughing Championships.
“I attended Gurteen Agricultural College in 1991. From there, I went to Pallaskenry Agricultural College in 1992 and did its agricultural engineering course”, Anthony Reynolds told That’s Farming.
“When I took over the business, we were cutting silage with a JF 1100. So, I bought my first CLAAS Jaguar 840 self-propelled in 2002.”
“My father had a Massey Ferguson 148 tractor back in the early 1980s; he used to do a lot of work with that, and actually, it did most of the heavy work.”
“Then, he upgraded to a Massey Ferguson 188, then a Ford 5000 and later to a Massey Ferguson 699, which was the first four-wheel-drive tractor in the area at the time. So, my first tractor to drive was that Massey Ferguson 148.”
“That would be one of my best memories from my childhood only beaten by getting a drive on the combine when it would be taken out of the shed.”
Reynolds Agri is a family-run business covering a 25-mile radius of Edgeworthstown, employing two full-time and four part-time staff.
The business offers a full silage-cutting pit service, combine harvesting, ploughing, reseeding, spraying, hedge-cutting, and slurry spreading with an umbilical system and slurry tankers.
“We cut on, average, 2,000-acres of silage. When I started, I suppose it was around maybe 700 or 800-acres.”
“When we bought the umbilical system in 2013, we built the customers up. It is very busy with the umbilical system now. So, every year, we would have more and more customers with that.”
“Our customer base continued through the generations. So, we would have very long-standing customers and families for whom we would be cutting silage for 40 years plus, back since the early 1980s.”
Reynolds Agri gradually changed to all John Deere tractors but later came back to Massey Ferguson tractors.
“The main reason for changing tractors was the local dealer, Johnston Farm Equipment Limited, changed brands to Massey Ferguson. I am a firm believer in supporting local business.”
Anthony took over ownership of the business with the following tractors: a Fiat 110-90, a Fiat 180-90, two Massey Ferguson 2645s, and a John Deere 3250.
Today, his tractor fleet consists of a John Deere 5720, John Deere 6520, John Deere 6630, John Deere 6170, Massey Ferguson 7715, and a Massey Ferguson 7718.
Other items include a CLAAS Jaguar 850 harvester, JCB 419 loading shovel, John Deere 131 front mower and KRONE 3201 back mower.
He also has a John Deere 530 mower, 20ft Redrock and Broughan silage trailers, Major LGP 2500-gallon slurry tank, Newrock 2500-gallon slurry tank with a MASTEK 7.5m dribble bar and a SLURRYKAT 1600m umbilical system with a 9m dribble bar.
In addition, Anthony has a Bomford hedge-cutter, two Kuhn 3m power harrows, an ACCORD seed drill, a Kverneland four-furrow reversible plough, a Fella rake, a Knight trailed 2500-litre sprayer, a Deutz Fahr 4075 combine, and a Deutz Fahr 1202 combine and various other machines.
“We do a lot of the repairs and servicing ourselves unless it has to be put on diagnostics. But then, our local dealers are always on hand to solve any problems that arise.”
Since making his mark on the business twenty years ago, Anthony has found that machines have improved, and the window for work has shortened.
“When I started in the 1990s, we would be cutting silage every day for eight or nine weeks. Now, it all has to be done in two or three weeks; that is a big change and a big challenge.”
“Back then, in the 1990s, slurry was an all-year-round job, weather permitting, but now with the slurry ban, it must be spread in a much shorter window too.”
Anthony outlined the key elements he believes are necessary to running a successful business.
“The most important thing is if you tell someone you are going to be there, be there. If you get delayed and are not going to be there, tell them. If you do not have a word, you have nothing.”
So, I think what our customers appreciate most is a good reliable service. We endeavour to do what is asked of us when it is asked of us and make sure that the communication is good so that they are not left wondering or waiting.”
“This would not happen without good staff who are hardworking, skilled, know the customers, and have pride in their work.”
“On the management end, you need to be able to make repayments and pay your bills on time. This is very important. It is easy enough to buy machines, but you have to watch the financial end of things.”
Anthony hopes to maintain his service list, welcome new customers, and continue to provide a “good, prompt, and efficient service.”
However, he sees the cost of new machinery, parts, and fuel as a challenge to stay competitive. He outlined that the increases in fees charged to customers must be limited.
“New tractors have gone up in price and must be going up nearly 10% a year. Any small piece of machinery costs a minimum of €10,000, and it is generally in the €40,000 to €50,000 bracket.”
“It is €150,000 upwards for a 200HP tractor and €300,000 upwards for a forager, which is crazy. The greatest difficulty is keeping the fleet modern.”
“There is always machinery to be bought and upgraded. We buy a couple of pieces of machinery or a tractor every year. We will see what 2022 brings.”
“Over the next few years, the new CAP will have a big influence on what will happen in relation to contracting and farming in general.”
“Farming might become less intensive in some areas. Dairy farming is getting bigger, but with the new CAP, there might be a reduction in the other enterprises.”
“But, like my grandfather and father before me, our generation will have to change and evolve with the times.” the agricultural contractor concluded.
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