Sustainability: Samco Agricultural Manufacturing Ltd
The need back in the 1990s for a new way to grow maize in Ireland’s cool climate has led over time to a successful company, Samco Agricultural Manufacturing Ltd.
The company developed a unique three-in-one maize planting machine that sets the seed, applies weed killer and covers the drill with a film of biodegradable material all at once, explains company director Robert Shine.
His father, Samuel ,developed the machine back in the mid-1990s so he could produce forage for cattle on the family farm in Adare, Co Limerick. But it was clear the machine would be just as useful to other farmers and so the company began.
They started manufacturing and began research on a suitable degradable agricultural film. “It acts like a mini greenhouse in effect, heat is trapped under the film to help seed germination. It can be used for soya, sweet corn, sorghum or sunflower,” he says.
They have developed a number of films and are experimenting with a starch-based film to replace older versions. “We have about 10 different products developed here and made here and in China.”
Samco now employs 30 people directly and another 20 indirectly in support services, Shine says. It exports 80 per cent of what it produces with machines leaving Adare for Japan, China, New Zealand, Chile, Canada and the US, with recent annual growth of 15 to 20 per cent, he says.
Research and development remains central to what the company does, Shine says. “Forefront in our minds is R&D. We don’t accept the notion that if it isn’t broken don’t fix it, we always try to improve our products.”