THE blades have been sharpened,the diesel tanks are full — it can only mean this year’s grass season is well under way.
With farm incomes under extreme pressure contractors will be focusing on reducing their costs during this year’s harvest to make a profit as raising charges would not be welcome by their customers.
If the weather plays ball, thousands of acres of grass will be mown and picked up over the next four to five months.
For contractor Garth Cairns of Cairns Contracting in Waringstown, Co Armagh, the season has started well and there is a new self-propelled foragerleading the fleet this year.
The grass is already ensiled for a number of Garth’s early customers which provided a good opportunity to try out his new John Deere 8800i self-propelled harvester, which is valued at around €350,000.
Garth, who also owns the SlurryKat farm machinery manufacturing business, starting contracting back in 1995 part-time, firstly to a few neighbours who needed some help, but later to a wider base of customers.
The harvesting fleet has grown in sync over the years with increased demand for an efficient contracting service that he was providing in the area.
John Deere has always been the preferred brand of choice for Garth’s fleet currently standing at 14 tractors and two self-propelled forage harvesters.
His loyalty to the John Deere brand has been well maintained over the years as Garth started off in contracting using a few John Deere tractors from the 30, 40 and 50 series.
Even though Garth has purchased the latest John Deere forage harvester brand new, his exchange policy for the tractors is quite different.To keep a control on costs Garth runs his tractors for as long as possible with a meticulous maintenance policy to get the most value out of each one.
The newest tractor in the fleet is a John Deere 7290R, bought in 2015, but the oldest has just passed its 21st birthday and is still going strong.