As part of this week Agricultural Entrepreneur of the Week Segment, It’s farming, Highland Ground Services profiles. Peadar Seoige talks about quitting his job as a truck driver to get into contract farming, spreading 500 tonnes of lime a year, customer service, the benefits of using smaller machines and increasing input costs.
The shift from the transport sector to the agricultural contracting sector has opened a “big” opening in weeding services for Peadar Seoighe of Corr na Móna, Clonbur, County Galway.
In 2012, Peadar Seoige started his agricultural contracting business, Highland Ground Services, as a part-time truck driver at Barker Haulage, Tourmakeady.
He quit his trucking job six years ago to go full-time into contract farming and continued to offer weeding, topping and plant rental services.
To lay the groundwork for his business, he got hold of a used Suzuki 750 quad bike and homemade weedkiller.
Additionally, during the 2000s, Peadar operated a scaffolding business and erected scaffolding for privately built houses.
Commenting on his reasons for venturing into agricultural contracts, he said It’s farming:
“I was trying to start a business near my home where I would work for myself.
“There are four children in my family. It’s hard enough to keep a full-time job and take care of babysitters and such.
In addition to running his own agricultural contracting business, he farms 350 acres and leases 50 acres. He has 300 sheep, which are mostly Blackface Mountain sheep with a few Lanark, Jacob and Suffolk sheep.
Peadar purchased two plots of land from 2004 to 2006 from his brother, who was selling his properties at the very center of his parents’ farm. In 2018, he inherited his parents’ farm, which spans 250 acres.
According to Peadar, hikers use some of its terrain for rock climbing. He also cuts the turf using an old fashioned slane on this land.
Highland Ground Services
Peadar runs his business solo and serves a 50 mile radius around Corr na Móna.
Highland Ground Services offers weeding, lime spreading, fertilizer spreading, tree shearing, flailing, earthworks and fencing services.
The company first built up its customer base through word of mouth and the local distribution of business cards.
“There would be no one here who would do what I do. So I do a lot of rehearsal work and try to finish my work at a high level.
“I do any job, I do it for me, the same for clients. So I would be almost more fussy with clients’ work than I would be with myself.
He believes the key to successfully running an agricultural contracting and plant rental business is maintaining “the quality of your work” for customers.
Agricultural and Earthmoving Services
The company’s most popular services are weeding and lime spreading, followed by earthworks as the next popular service.
In 2017, Peadar moved into factory leasing. He bought the shovel to complete improvements to the farm with plans to offer earthmoving service and rent it out to the public during its quiet times.
“Weed wiping rushes were a very popular service over the years, but now lime spreading is becoming popular because the price of fertilizer has become so expensive.”
“So customers are opting for the lime option. For example, I can spread lime on steep, sloping terrain where tractors cannot. The spreading of lime resumes every year for me. I could spread 400 to 500 tons of lime per year.
He aims to increase his work on the company’s lime spreading arm and feels he can access more locations by using his shovel to dig before spreading. “Spreading lime would be the job I love the most.”
His brother, Ciaran, built him a quad-tractable lime spreader, which resulted in a “heavy” workload for Peadar in his lime spreading department.
Its fleet includes a Quadzilla CF Moto 1000cc C Force quad, a Kubota RTV-X1110 utility vehicle, a Hitachi 3t mini digger, the Logic Towed ATV Weed Wiper – Contact 2000 CTFm, various sizes of excavator buckets and an assortment of digger shear. shafts and breaker accessories.
Peadar’s brother carries out maintenance work on his fleet.
“My brother is a fitter and he lives with me. He services and maintains tractors and quads as his own business. I buy a brand new quad every two years.
“In my opinion, the small machinery is ideal for the area I work in. Also, the shovel can make my life easier if there is rough terrain that may not have an entrance.”
“You can level a 10-foot driveway and enter with machinery. For example, I spread lime where there had never been before.
Challenges affecting Highland Ground Services include working in rough terrain, increasing input costs and spraying costs.
“Diesel prices are difficult. So I’m considering switching to a diesel quad. The quad could burn $50-$60 worth of gas for a long day.
“I’ve done very little with the bagged fertilizer service this year. So 80% of my bagged fertilizer work is gone this year. »
“For example, the pit silage contractor has no way out; they have to buy the fertilizer.
“The fertilizer I apply is based on samples where I then base it with lime. I top it off with whatever bagged fertilizer I’ve been told to make from the samples with trace minerals.
“However, a lot of customers are leaving this now. In my opinion, the price of fertilizers is too expensive.
Plans and future of Irish agricultural contracts
He said he has no plans to expand his business or employ staff – due to weekly family commitments.
“If I was restarting my business, I would have bought a brand new Logitech Contact 2000 weed killer, a brand new quad and tried hire purchase to see how I was doing.”
Peadar thinks agricultural contracts will get “rocky” for him for a while due to the government’s crackdown on rough terrain spraying.
Rising weedkiller costs will also impact the Galway agricultural contractor.
“The price of the weedkiller I use has tripled, which will push the farmer to do something different.”
“For example, this year, twenty liters of weedkiller cost me €270, and it cost €87 last year. So you might see a lot of farmers trying to buy cheap weedkiller to do their own job.
“So you might have the issue with the government coming in and maybe trying to get more people into organic farming,” the agricultural entrepreneur concluded.
To share your story like this Galway agricultural entrepreneur, email Catherina Cunnane, editor of It’s farming – email@example.com
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