Agri contractors of distinction

27 Sep , 2022  

Based in Tullogher, Co. Kilkenny, Cotterell Agri has been a leading agri contractor in the area for over 40 years. The Cotterell family are also dairy and tillage farmers, and are well-known in ploughing circles.

Cotterell Agri was set up by Eamon Cotterell and is now run by his sons John and Steve. The family business offers a wide range of services to local farmers, including pit and baled silage, slurry spreading, sowing, ploughing, grain harvesting, lime spreading and fertiliser spreading.  Eamon cut his teeth with local agri contractor Mikey Ryan before deciding to go out on his own in 1980. He started cutting silage in 1982, but it wasn’t until John and Steve came on board after leaving school that the business really started to grow and expand its services.

“We bought our first new tractor – a Valtra 850 – in 2002 and grew from there,” explains John, who is a multiple All-Ireland ploughing champion.

Committed to providing a top-class service and total customer satisfaction, the Cotterells have an array of machinery to carry out your work quickly and efficiently, providing you with value-for-money and an alternative to investing in your own expensive equipment. The contractor’s success can be attributed to the knowledge, experience, skill and reliability of its staff as well as the quality of its machinery. John, Steve and their highly-skilled team deliver the value and quality farmers expect from their agricultural contracting partner.

The brothers run a modern fleet of seven tractors, five of which are John Deere. “We were Valtra up until 2013 when TFM in Ballycallan – who we had bought a John Deere harvester and mower from – asked us to give a John Deere demo tractor a try. We liked it and have stuck with them ever since,” Steve says.

Cotterell Agri are running two John Deere 6155Ms, a 6140R, a 6175R and a 6195R. Completing the tractor line-up are a CLAAS Arion 630 and a New Holland T5105 which is predominantly used by John in competition ploughing. The Cotterells also have a Kramer KL wheel loader for farmyard work, while the CLAAS Arion with its CLAAS front loader is also utilised on the farm.

The South Kilkenny operation boasts top-class grass machinery, including a CLAAS Jaguar 850 forage harvester, John Deere butterfly and trail mowers, a new JCB 435 loading shovel, three 20ft Smyth silage trailers, two 20ft Red Rock silage trailers, a CLAAS liner 2800 rake and a John Deere combi round baler. The CLAAS Jaguar 850 was purchased new last year from Kelly’s Borris, having replaced an older version of the same machine.

In addition, Cotterell Agri runs two combine harvesters – a New Holland TX62 and a CLAAS Medion 340. For slurry, the brothers operate a 3,000-gallon Abbey tanker with a 7m trailing shoe and a 2,000-gallon Abbey tanker with flat plate. They’ve also recently taken delivery of a new Richard Western 4200 rear discharge dung spreader from Kelly’s of Borris.

For ploughing and sowing, the Cotterells run Kverneland four- and five-furrow reversible ploughs, a Horsch Joker 6RT 6m trailed disc harrow, a Simba 5m trailed disc harrow, a Maschio 3m rotavator and a Horsch Pronto 4m drill. They also have a Bredal K45 lime spreader and a new Amazone ZA-V Profis Tronic fertiliser spreader which was purchased from Eardly Agricultural Service in Kilkenny.

“We have a contract with Bennettsbridge Limestone Quarry to spread lime for local farmers,” Steve continues.

“We bought the Amazone fertiliser spreader for our own use, but it wasn’t long before we made it available to other farmers because of its GPS spreading system and the accuracy it provides at a time when fertiliser costs are at an all-time high.”

All machines are maintained and serviced regularly to avoid breakdowns and downtime.

“There isn’t a need for us to do any maintenance ourselves because most of our equipment is under warranty. It’s a position we’ve got ourselves into by keeping our machinery fresh. Our oldest tractor is a 2020-reg. As dairy farmers, we wouldn’t have the time to be maintaining or repairing machinery in any case,” John says.

“We enjoy a very good relationship with our suppliers who include TFM, Kelly’s of Borris, Eardly Agriculture Service and Murphy’s Motors in Glenmore, who we bought the New Holland tractor off.”

There is no such thing as a quiet time for the Tullogher contractors who will work around the clock during peak times to keep clients happy. Slurry spreading, lime and fertiliser spreading, ploughing and sowing take precedence in the early part of the year, followed by silage during the summer months. After that comes grain harvesting and more slurry spreading.

Cotterell Agri operates within a 15-mile radius of Tullogher, taking in the surrounding areas of Glenmore, Mullinavat, Ballyhale, Thomastown, Gowran, Carrickshock and Mooncoin.

“We have some great customers who have stuck with us through thick and thin. We’d like to think that we do a good, clean job for them. We retain customers and attract new ones by providing a service which is second to none. We’re always happy to go the extra mile and won’t leave anyone stuck,” Steve adds.

John is an accomplished ploughman who won his first All-Ireland in the three-furrow standard class in 2008. He was the All-Ireland junior conventional champion in 2018 and finished third in this year’s All-Ireland intermediate class. He is looking forward to flying the flag for the Tullogher-Glenmore Ploughing Association once again at this year’s National Championships in Co. Laois after winning his fourth Kilkenny title.

“There is a strong tradition of competition ploughing in the area. My father competed before me, while Willie Ryan took part in the World Championships and is still competing at nearly 80 years of age,” John explains.

The Cotterells combine their agri contracting business with busy dairy and tillage enterprises. In less than 10 years, they have built up their dairy herd from 50 to 350. Accordingly, they have added a second milking parlour as Steve elaborates: “We started out with a Pearson 10-unit in 2013 which we later extended to 16-unit.

“We purchased land across the road which allowed us to build a 16-unit DeLaval milking parlour in 2018. The option is there to add four more units to it. Our milk is supplied to Glanbia.”

John and Steve also grow cereals on their impressive 700-acre holding, about 400 of which is rented. “We have 250 acres in tillage. We’d usually grow spring barley, winter wheat and let out a small bit of ground to Eddie Doyle of Doyle Produce to grow potatoes, but we’re only growing spring barley this year,” Steve concludes.

Cotterell Agri


Co. Kilkenny.

Telephone: 087 6890962

Email: [email protected]

First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 10 No 4, July/August 2022