From their base in Tierworker, P Smith & Sons Agri Contractors provide a full range of high-quality contracting services to farmers in counties Meath, Cavan and Louth. We caught up with Padraig Smith to get the latest on this exceptional family-run operation.
Located amidst the undulating terrain of Tierworker, Kells, along the Meath–Cavan county boundary, P Smith & Sons Agri Contractors is a long-established, value-added agri contracting business that has been professionally and promptly meeting the needs of local farmers since the mid-1980s.
Providing a comprehensive range of contracting solutions, the business was established by Philip Smith and is today overseen by Philip’s sons, Padraig and Andrew, generating direct full-time employment for a team of four all year around, with this number rising to ten during the peak of the summer.
As dairy and beef farmers themselves, the Smiths understand implicitly the qualities that an agri contractor needs to deliver on a consistent basis to earn trust and loyalty from their customers: “You have to get a good, professional, efficient job done when they need it,” Padraig states. “You have to provide the exact services the farmer wants and make sure you give them a reliable service.
“We have a lot of long-established customers going back over the years; we look after them and they look after us. Ultimately, it all boils down to giving a good reliable service with good machinery and experienced operators.”
A fresh and immaculate fleet of tractors and machinery is very much at the heart of the operation. Tractor-wise, P Smith & Sons Agri Contractors run seven Valtras and three Masseys – one 7726 and two 7718s. A new Valtra T194 was purchased this year, teaming up with a T173, T170 and two T160s as well as an old 8200, which is paired with a saw head all year around, and an 8550, which is used on site with a recently-acquired loader.
What is it about the Valtra brand that appeals to the Tierworker-based contractors? “We’re just well-used to them at this stage and really like them,” says Padraig. “They’re extremely reliable and you get a good service out of them. They’re user-friendly and we’re comfortable using them as we’re so familiar with them.”
As well as contracting, the Smiths are also an integral part of the local farming community, Philip – who started contracting three-and-a-half decades ago – overseeing the 250-acre home farm, milking cows and finishing cattle, while his sons focus on the second-generation contracting enterprise. “We still work for a lot of customers who have been with us since the start,” Padraig confirms.
For silage, the Smiths run a Claas 850 self-propelled forage harvester alongside a pair of McHale Fusion balers. For slurry, they have two umbilical pipe systems with dribble bars, a SlurryKat with trailing shoe and tankers with splash plates. “Basically, any way that slurry can be spread, we will do it,” Padraig notes. They also have two McConnel flail mowers and a saw on one tractor for hedge cutting as well as a saw and sheers for their 13-tonne JCB track machine.
Masters of multi-tasking, P Smith & Sons Agri Contractors, who took possession of a new disc harrow in August, also specialise in reseeding and ploughing. “We sow grass and a small amount of barley,” says Padraig. “We also do rear-discharge muck spreading and spread fertilizer. We have a couple of dumpers, too, and do a good bit of site clearance and dump trailer work. We cover everything really – silage, slurry, hedge cutting, reseeding, digger work, tree removal with shears, site clearance for houses, fertilizer spreading, ploughing, levelling, baling – you name it! You have to be able to do a bit of everything these days.”
A large catchment area within a 35km radius approximately of Tierworker is covered, encompassing parts of counties Meath, Cavan and Louth. “We go down as far as Shercock and Bailieborough, over to Virginia and Carnaross and back up to Kells and Athboy then over towards Ardee and Slane as well as everywhere in between,” says Padraig.
To provide such a comprehensive range of services, having top-class machinery manned by highly-experienced and –skilled operators is a prerequisite. To this end, the P Smith & Sons Agri Contractors fleet is regularly replenished, with all units preserved in optimal running order at all times.
“We’re always upgrading the fleet and adding new gear – you simply have to do so,” Padraig concludes. “You are constantly racing against the weather and if you are going to have any chance of getting through the work then you have to have good machinery.
“The Claas 850 harvester is only in its second season and we also added a new New Holland W170D loading shovel this year as well as a new SlurryKat slurry kit this year and the aforementioned Valtra tractor. We got a new SlurryKat pipe system last year and a new Mastek dribble bar in 2018. The bottom line for any contractor is that you have to continually reinvest and keep reliable machinery in order to be able to guarantee reliable work.”
P Smith & Sons have been doing this for decades and have developed an unrivalled reputation for excellence. Setting and maintaining the highest standards, this exceptional family-run business boasts a proven track record of looking after the needs of local farmers and – backed by a wealth of experience and expertise – is in a very strong position going forward.
P Smith & Sons Agri Contractors,
Tel: 087 7631817
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 1, January/February 2021