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‘We will all be out in battery-operated tractors in a few years’

As part of this week’s Agricultural Contractor of the Week segmentThat’s Farming, speaks to Stephen Healy from Tullyallen Agri Services. He discusses how the business has combined a love of agricultural contracting and mechanical engineering.

Stephen and Gordon Healy combined their love for agriculture and mechanics in 2010, by forming an agricultural contracting and repairs company, Tullyallen Agri Services.

The County Louth-based brother’s business name resulted from guidance from their late father, Gerard Healy, an agricultural contractor and co-founder of the Tullyallen Tractor Run.

“It [agricultural contracting] is in the blood from day one. Every day we would come home from school, we would nearly have to go into the yard to see what was going on and see what the people were away at,” Stephen Healy told That’s Farming.

“There was a farmer down beside us. I used to remember coming home from school in the month of May and I would be looking over to see did they start cutting the field to get it started.”

“That would be the start of silage because they would normally be one of the first people to get going at grass. So, you would always be watching for that field to be mowed.”

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Tullyallen Agri Services, agricultural contracting, agricultural contractors, farming news, tractors

Tullyallen Agri Services

In 1999, the business purchased their first CLAAS Jaguar 860 harvester, cutting 3,000-acres of pit silage and maize. Their late father, Gerard, possessed a JF 900, JF 1000, and JF 1350 drag harvesters in earlier years.

Massey Ferguson is a brand very much to the fore, with their first new tractor, a Massey Ferguson 7618. Before this point, the company possessed second-hand tractors.

Since then, the company has traded in and bought several new tractors. Today, the fleet consists of two Massey Ferguson 7720, a Massey Ferguson 7726 tractor, a Massey Ferguson 7726 Vario transmission tractor and a Massey Ferguson 7719 tractor.

“Martin’s Garage would be doing all the maintenance work on them. So, any maintenance of machinery and implements, we do all that work ourselves in the garage.”

“Since 2019, my brother and I have been buying machinery through the same finance companies our father would have been dealing with over the years.”

Tullyallen Agri Services, agricultural contracting, agricultural contractors, farming news, tractors

Farm machinery 

The brothers use a SLURRYKAT umbilical pipe system, an NC rear discharge dung spreader, a 4000-gallon SLURRYKAT slurry tank (with dribble bar), a 4000-gallon Newrock slurry tank (with dribble bar], a 2750-gallon Conor slurry tanker (with dribble bar), two 2600-gallon Ruscon slurry tanks (with splash plates) and a Newrock agitator.

Other items include a 30ft CLAAS rake, a 50ft KRONE rake, a Kverneland butterfly mower, KRONE butterfly mowers, front KRONE MOWER, CLAAS rear mower, a KRONE 13M scatter and a Spearhead Twiga 655T hedge-cutter.

On the tillage front, he uses a Kverneland five-furrow plough, a Gregoire Besson five-furrow plough, a SAMCO 6-row maize sower and a LEMKEN 6m power harrow, a KUHN 3m power harrow, and a SULKY 3m one-pass system.

In addition, there is a PÖTTINGER silage wagon, a JCB 435s loading shovel (3) 22ft Broughan silage trailers, a 20ft Broughan silage trailer, one 20ft Eureka, silage trailer, a 25ft AW silage trailer and a Daewoo 14-tonne digger.

Services

The business employs four full-time people with additional staff at peak times, serving Louth, Meath, and north Dublin.

The services offered include agitating, slurry spreading, (with tankers and umbilical system), raking, scattering, pit and wagoned silage, whole-crop harvesting, maize harvesting, harrowing, sowing, dung spreading, and drawing bales.

“In the last year or two, we would be up at 5,000-acres of grass and about 300-acres of maize on top of that. The grass would be the biggest service.”

“We work within about a 20-mile radius. There would be a lot of dairy farmers who would be gone up in cow numbers too. There is a lot of grass to be brought in and slurry to go out then.”

“It is good that you do not have to be driving hours away to get to the job. Everything is fairly local.”

Tullyallen Agri Services, agricultural contracting, agricultural contractors, farming news, tractors

Challenges

Stephen feels the rising prices of diesel, steel for machinery, and tyres “leave things tight enough” for agricultural contractors.

“I do not know where it is all going to stop. The price of machinery is gone through the roof.”

“A certain tractor back then was about €85,000 compared to nowadays; you would not buy the same horsepower tractor for €155,000.”

Tullyallen Agri Services, agricultural contracting, agricultural contractors, farming news, tractors

Autosteer

Since establishing their business, the brothers currently have four tractors with the technology, with only three installed.

“It is nearly hard to do a job without using the autosteer when you get used to it. You can make the most out of your machine with the wide width you are taking with you, whether it is mowing, raking, scattering, or even spreading slurry.”

“A few years ago, you would not have heard tell of using autosteer for spreading slurry or raking. Now, you would not go into a field without making sure you had it in the roof. It can get everything down to the inch.”

Tullyallen Agri Services, agricultural contracting, agricultural contractors, farming news, tractors

Future

Looking to the future, Stephen will watch the viewpoint of his children to see if an interest occurs to continue the business.

Stephen feels a key factor to the business is having one operator per tractor and keeping machines right.

The brothers jointly plan to purchase two additional new tractors and trial a new SaMASZ mower on a trial basis.

“We will tip away at it the way it is going at the minute and see if things do not get any worst price-wise of machines and health stays on our side. I do not see it getting much bigger because you have to have the family time too.”

“I will see what the Green Party says and what they allow.”

“It is hard to know what way it will all go. The show has to go on at the same time. You need all the grass in the country to feed all the cows to produce the milk and food.”

“I still see the contracting going well for everybody. It is just that the price of everything has to come to some sort of a stop. It just cannot keep rising and rising,” the owner of Tullyallen Agri Services concluded.

To share your story like Tullyallen Agri Services, email – catherina@thatsfarming.com

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