On the go since the late 1990s, Belan Agri Contractors Limited provides a complete agriculture contracting service to its customers. Irish Tractor & Agri spoke with its Office Manager Laura Nolan to learn all about the Co Kildare-based company – from its origins to the current state of business.
The customers have always come first at Belan Agri Contractors Limited and it has been central to the company’s success and longevity down through the years.
These days business is thriving over in Belan, Moone, Athy, Co Kildare and the plan for the Nolan clan is to try and keep things that way right through to 2023.
The family-run company offers a gate-to-gate service for tillage farmers throughout Kildare, West Wicklow, Carlow and Laois.
Irish Tractor & Agri touched base with Laura Nolan – wife of company director Patrick – to hear all about this tried and trusted business a few miles outside the town of Athy.
“The business has been going since the 1990s and would’ve been started by Hugh Nolan,” outlined Laura.
“In 2011, Patrick and Hugh (brothers) took over the running of the company and I would’ve came on board in 2016.”
Since that time, Hugh jnr has taken a step back from the business while Laura “mainly manages the office”, as she herself puts it.
Today, Belan Agri Contractors Limited employs two full-time, with more coming on board part-time during the summer, and also has a sister company in Belan – Joe Nolan & Sons Plant Hire Ltd which Hugh jnr and Patrick are involved in.
For decades now, the Nolan name has been synonymous with agricultural contracting in the area and their company’s service is one which is very much renowned for its excellence.
“When it comes to the services we provide, it’s a full gate-to-gate service for tillage farmers,” said Laura.
“We also offer spraying and spreading of fertiliser, have three square balers, a chaser an basically do everything for the tillage farmer and cover Kildare, Carlow, Laois and west Wicklow.”
Indeed, Belan Agri Contractors Ltd is an agri contracting outfit that specialises in all aspects of tillage and crop production from conventional ploughing tilling and sowing to mintill.
It offers customers complete stubble to stubble service, including brown bin, chicken litter, digestates spreading with GPS and on the go weighing for the best possible application of valuable fertilisers. Belan Agri Contractors Ltd also offer slurry spreading by splash plater and dribble bar. Spraying (pa1 and pa2 qualified) is carried out by GPS section and rate control where plant protection products and fertilisers can be sprayed with the highest accuracy.
Keen to have the complete package on offer for its customers, for the silage season Belan Agri Contractors is offers mowing ,tedding, raking, round baling or square baling, wrapping, loading, drawing and stacking of bales. “Farmers just want us to come in and look after everything so that at the end of the day the bales are safely stacked in the yard,” said Laura.
With all of that considered, it’s no surprise to see business flourishing at the moment for the proud family company.
“Last year was a good year for us,” said Laura. “Yields were good for the farmers with high bale counts being achieved and super weather to top it off. But every up has a down, as you could have one good year and the next two are bad years.
“Our business is so reliant on good weather, especially when it comes to harvest time. There’s also challenges with the cost of machinery going up and up and, of course, the price of maintaining them as well.”
Speaking of machinery, the Nolans are operating with four Fendt tractors in their yard at the moment and a whole lot more after that.
They’ve always been of the belief that a machinery fleet should be well maintained, as well-maintained machines are required to meet the demand from customers, particularly in busy times.
2021 saw Belan Agri Contractors Ltd adding another Fendt machine to the yard, as Laura explained.
“They (Fendt) are a very reliable machine and we’ve had them in the yard here since the 1980s,” she said.
“Patrick’s uncle Hugh got the first Fendt tractor – a 308 LSA – and they’ve been here since. They’re superior how they’re built and are really second to none, I think.
“Last year, we bought a Fendt Rotunda 160V baler and it’s been going great for us since. It’s a very reliable machine and the back up service with them is excellent, I have to say.”
Service, after all, is what counts in the agri contracting game and at Belan Agri Contractors Ltd they know it as well as anyone. “We rely heavily on Atkins Farm Machinery, Birr for all things Fendt and speak highly of their service.”
So, what has been the secret to the Kildare company’s continued success over the decades?
“We put our customers first and if they’re not happy, we’re not happy,” said Laura.
“We have one customer here that we’re working with for 40 years now. When it comes to the customer, we consider their farm as well – not just what they’re asking us to do.
“We take on the right approach and we pride ourselves on bringing in repeat business as well. It’s the reason why the company has a good name and Patrick’s family have been contracting for decades.”
It should be noted as well that the Nolans remain farmers at heart themselves.
In addition to the contracting business that they run day in, day out, the family has a 120-acre farm on which they grow wheat, barley, oats and beet.
Looking towards the coming months for Belan Agri Contractors Ltd, Laura concluded by saying that she hopes to see the business expand further in 2022.
“We hope to grow the business more,” she said. “I’m in the office most of the time and managing cash flow is often one of the biggest challenges. Even though I spend most of my time in the office, I also like to spend some time driving in the business season, from round baling to square baling and loader work just to keep my hand in and to keep up with some of the technology.
“Looking after our staff has always been priority for us. We’re very big into Health & Safety and are very conscience of looking after our staff.”
Belan Agri Contractors Limited
Mobile: 085 151 5627 (Patrick)
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 10 No 3, May/June 2022