The tractor index: Are farmers making hay?
“It kept them going in poorer conditions, and the machines moved faster. I certainly didn’t come across any who were regretting their decision.”
I've got a brand new . . . Men and machines
Pat Halpin: No regrets about buying two tractors
Pat Halpin, a farmer and contractor, bought two tractors last year and has no regrets.
“Never look backwards, always forwards. That’s what I always say. I bought two new Claas tractors, and they’ll pay for themselves.”
From Knocklong, on the Limerick- Tipperary border, he began contracting in 2009, which was a bad year for farming.
“But that’s the way things go. I think it’s the best time to start any business. If you survive in a recession you’ll prosper in the good times.”
Halpin has been buying machinery steadily since he began doing work for other farmers; he says that 2010 and 2011 were good years but that last year was a different story.
“We got through it, in some shape or form, but things would want to be a lot better than they were in 2012.”
When he is not contracting, he is looking after his dairy and beef farm, where feed bills doubled last year because of the bad weather.
Philip Driver: The John Deere hunter
Philip Driver is looking for a tractor at the moment and says it will be his biggest purchase since he began farming, five years ago.
The 25 year-old is a part-time beef and sheep farmer in Shillelagh, Co Wicklow. He is also a mechanic with Templetuohy Farm Machinery, so he knows his tractors. Since he started farming he has made a few purchases, such as trailers, a mower and a baler.
He believes sales have increased because tractors bought during the boom now need to be traded up.
“Most people trade when they have a tractor for four or five years, with about 5,000 hours done,” he says. Credit “has also freed up a lot for farmers lately”.
He wants to buy a 100-horsepower John Deere, costing about €75,000. It will be used for work such as feeding cattle and sheep, spreading fertiliser and making hay and silage.
He likes the idea of using the tractor’s GPS capabilities for precision farming. “It saves on diesel and saves on time.”
Kieran McEvoy Reluctant to buy new machinery
Kieran McEvoy from Portarlington, Co Laois, says he would be very reluctant to buy new machinery.
“We’re tillage farmers, but we wouldn’t be large scale, so we buy second-hand machinery from garages or privately or through Done Deal,” he says. “We’d buy something every year or every second year. I’d go out of business very quickly if I spent a lot of money.”
He upgraded his combine and tractor last year, going from a 1985 to a 1997 combine and increasing the tractor horsepower from 90 to 115.
“I’ve two brothers who’d be into tractors too, and it’s one of our big family discussions. There wouldn’t be a lot else talked about if they are here at dinner-time.”
He says it is good to see farmers invest in machinery. “If every industry did the same, the country would be in a lot better position. If young farmers are prepared to pay €80,000 or €100,000 for a tractor – and you can be sure it will have been well scrutinised by the bank – they should be commended and not scorned.”