One of Northern Ireland's most forward thinking agri engineering companies has had its commitment to investment recognised courtesy by the 'Spirit of Enterprise' Award Scheme. Waringstown-based SlurryKat has been added to the acclaimed initiative's role of honour for April on the back of its highly successful product development programme and export sales drive.
The Spirit of Enterprise Awards are organised by the Ulster Society of Chartered Accountants, in association with Northern Bank. The initiative was established to officially Northern Ireland's most innovative and entrepreneurial companies.
SlurryKat was founded by Garth Cairns in January 2008, who had previously built up one of Northern Ireland's most successful Agricultural contacting businesses.
Left to Right: Paul Kavanagh (Craigavon Borough Council), Garth Cairns (SlurryKat MD) andCaroline Thompson (Sponsor - Northern Bank)
"We set up the new manufacturing operation employing just two people initially," Garth explained.
"Prior to this I had purchased the SlurryKat brand name and distribution rights with the aim of re-focusing farmers' and contractors' attention on the benefits of efficient slurry use using umbilical slurry spreading techniques.
"To date we have succeeded in forwarding this objective. Over the past two years we have developed 50 + new design options and are selling into the Irish, UK and European markets. Our workforce has increased to its current level of 17 people."
The establishment of the SlurryKat manufacturing operation at Waringstown coincided with the introduction of the EU Nitrates Directive in the UK and Ireland. Garth Cairns recognised this development as an opportunity to highlight the significant fertiliser value within slurry.
"Traditionally, farmers viewed slurry as a waste that was 'conveniently' spread on the nearest field, just to get rid of it. The reality is that slurry is an extremely useful crop input, provided it can be spread at the right time and using the best SlurryKat techniques."
SlurryKat's success over the past two years can be attributed to the company's track record in developing umbilical spreading systems, incorporating dribble bars, flow metering and GPS technologies, which allow farmers and contractors to do this very thing.
"The umbilical approach allows slurry to be spread at times of the year when land is too wet to carry a traditional tanker," Garth Cairns stressed.
"Dribble bars allow the accurate placement of slurry on to a crop. What's more, the slurry is spread in such a way that volatisation losses are kept to an absolute minimum. This reduces the smell associated with traditional slurry spreading systems to an absolute minimum. It also means that the vast proportion of the Nitrogen in the slurry is retained to boost crop growth."
"We have developed slurry spreading systems that work because our years of contracting experience, this has taught us about all of the pitfalls that are out there on the job. In addition, we know that any of the new products that we bring to the market actually work because our contracting division has tested and trialed them rigorously and extensively during the development process."