As part of this week Agricultural Entrepreneur of the Week Segment, It’s farming, profiles P Turley Agri Services. Paul talks about working overseas, juggling a beef farm, mowing 1,200 acres of grass with a zero grazer, making 7,000 bales of silage, and increasing input costs.
In the spring of 2019, Paul Turley (30), from Clonfert, County Galway, started P Turley Agri Services from scratch when he saw an opening in the area for a baling and packing service.
Paul invested in a 1997 Valtra 6400 110 hp tractor, a Krone Fortima F 1250 (MC) baler and a Conor wrapper by working overseas and saving money. He first started using this machinery on his own farm.
He operates a calf-to-weaning system of Charolais crosses and Simmental crosses on 35 acres of owned land, which he manages alongside 15 store cattle.
“We’ve always had sheep and cows, but we’ve stopped having sheep on the farm for the last five or six years,” said Paul Turley, who earned his Green Cert at Mountbellew Agricultural College. It’s farming.
“I have always had a passion for agricultural contracts and have traveled the world. I did one season in New Zealand and Australia and three seasons in England during the harvest.
“Additionally, I worked for BA Murray Contractors in Christchurch and Neville Grennan in Matamata (one hour south of Auckland in the North Island) and then moved down to the South Island.”
“Additionally, I worked for years for a local agricultural contractor outside of Birr in County Offaly.”
“Agricultural subcontracting has always been my childhood dream. I wanted to travel the world. When I left school, I first worked as a carpenter, but my passion has always been for machines, so I started my own agricultural contracting business.
P Turley Agri Services
The company serves an 18 mile radius of Banagher including East Galway, West Offaly, North Tipperary and surrounding areas.
Paul employs two part-time workers during peak hours. He developed his clientele through advertising in his local co-op, posting ads on DoneDeal, and word of mouth. Additionally, 10% of its customers go through the company’s social media page.
“It’s funny how social media works. He’s a youngster who might see the Valtra tractor and zero-grazer working, and they tell their father/mother about it, he/she will ring a week later.
“Also, if I go to an area and people see the benefits of zero-grazing, a dairy farmer will talk about it, and then I’ll come back.”
“I am the only person to offer a zero grazing service in this area. The average dairy herd here consists of 80 to 100 cows; it’s not that big in my area.
“I started zero grazing three years ago this coming fall. Zero grazing is my core business, and that runs from March 1 through December 1.
Paul cuts 800 to 1,200 acres of grass with the zero grazer, up from 200 acres when he started his first fall. He explained that 75% of his work revolves around zero grazing.
Additionally, he makes 7,000 bales of silage unlike his first year, starting with a bale count of 3,000.
Paul also assists farmers through slurry spreading services. It performs up to 100 loads per year, ranging from hangars to 3 or 6 bays from just under 25 tanks.
“If a farmer spreads slurry and is under pressure, I will go to his house for 5 to 6 hours. I’m a helping hand with a slurry spreading service when an extra tanker and tractor are needed.
Other services include bale transport, fencing and plant rental services. Paul also drives factory machinery for other companies.
Its current fleet of tractors consists of a black 150hp Valtra N143 from 2014.
“I have been self-taught in mechanics at home over the years. We’ve always done clutches and things on the tractors if they needed to, so I’m mechanically minded.
“I do all the maintenance work the best I can, and if a tractor needs a computer, it’s Swaine Agri, the Valtra dealer in Rhode, County, Offaly.”
Other items include Broughan (red) 28ft Bale Trailer, Krone Fortima F 1250 (MC), Conor Wrapper, Conor Slurry Agitator, HiSpec 2300 Vacuum Tanker, Zero Grazer ZG75, Aerator 3 m bridgeway (with a harrow tine) and a 3m APV PS 800 M1 pneumatic seed drill.
Challenges for agricultural entrepreneurs
Fuel prices, Ad Blue costs, parts prices, contractor rates and weather conditions are some of the challenges Paul faces.
“There is a big price increase if I had to change tractors. For example, replacing my tractor in the morning costs €150,000 and the zero grazer has gone from €20,000 to €22,000 – since I bought mine new three years ago.
“Fuel prices have been crazy the past few weeks. The last order I received two weeks ago was for 800 liters and I had to wait five days. enough for three to four days.
“Supply and demand are very slow and difficult at the minute. Hopefully fuel prices will come down as the summer season approaches.
“You’ll see a lot of agribusinesses going out of business if fuel prices continue to rise because they won’t be able to meet their repayments.”
“My costs have increased for zero grazing. However, since last fall, I only pass on a third of my price increases to the customer.”
“If I were to pass on all of my costs, I wouldn’t be in business, or the farmer wouldn’t be able to pay for services without grazing.”
Business plans and the future of Irish agricultural contracts
Paul believes that to be successful in agricultural contracting, you “should try to do as much maintenance yourself, plan your day and drive up your costs.”
He plans in five years to have a second zero-grazer on the road, employ a full-time worker and continue to offer the rest of his services.
“The future is very bleak. It’s daunting. It’s not a simple time to contract.
“However, agricultural outsourcing is definitely a viable business, with a future with food and everything.”
“Also, I think the war in Ukraine will play a huge role in the future with grain and food shortages.”
“I just turned 30, and as far as I know in my area there aren’t too many people getting into contract farming in these uncertain times.”
“Furthermore, I am a unique agricultural entrepreneur in that I started from scratch. I started with hard work and long hours. I started agricultural contracting from scratch and built it up to where I am today. »
“In my opinion, the agricultural entrepreneur is just as important as the farmer. One cannot function without the other”, concluded the agricultural entrepreneur.
To share your story as P Turley Agri Services, email Catherina Cunnane, Editor-in-Chief of It’s farming, – firstname.lastname@example.org
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