Given the expensive nature of farming machinery many farmers turn to contractors to carry out their annual harvesting and other work that is carried out every year.
Since 1974, Kerry based agricultural contractor Pat Cronin has been providing a wide range of services to a customer base that has grown considerably over the years.
Over 45 years later and Pat is still providing these services to a customer base that has only increased and many of whom have been with him for a number of decades, although he has moved on from the finger bar mower to much more modern machinery.
To say that the family run business has picked up great experience over the years would be a massive understatement as they have seen it all and done it all.
These days Pat and his wife Kathleen, who looks after the books, have been joined in the business by their sons Paudie, Shane, Alan, Kieran and Conor to make it very much a family business.
It was Paudie that took time out of his busy schedule to speak to Irish Tractor & Agri about the workload and how they manage to keep so many customers happy.
They have a wide range 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 with almost 40 years’ experience in Agricultural Contracting.
“We have an extensive fleet of machinery here which includes 17 tractors made up of Claas, John Deere, Valmet and Case, while we have three Claas Harvesters,” said Paudie.
“We would run two silage crews during the season, while we also do baling, ploughing, slurry spreading, reseeding, etc. With all this we are kept busy all year round.”
The machinery is generally purchased from tried and trusted dealers, while they carry out the majority of the maintenance work themselves, which helps avoid any unnecessary downtime.
“During the winter months, a lot of time would be spent on servicing and maintaining the machinery and getting it ready for the busy summer period.
“With the silage, we could have a long draw on some jobs, up to 20 mile in some cases, so you are clocking up the hours on the tractors, so it is important to keep them well maintained, while we would upgrade on a regular basis.”
Many contractors operate within a ten or 20-mile radius of their bases, but for Pat Cronin & Sons, they travel much further to provide their services.
“We would cover a 50-mile radius from our base in Rathmore and have customers in both Kerry and Cork, where we provide our services.”
The weather can dictate when or where they can work at times and Paudie revealed that when they get the window of opportunity, they must take it.
“When the weather is good, you have to put in the hours, because in this country, you don’t really know what the weather will be like from one week to the next.”
Slurry spreading is one of the bigger services provided by the Cronin family and they use a couple of different methods to ensure work can be carried out on all types of land.
“We would have two umbilical systems on the go, while we also do tanker work as well. Between the two, we can operate on any sort of land and we have found that the umbilical system is getting more and more popular amongst farmers.”
Of course, to do all this, Health & Safety is paramount, and all the necessary permits are needed and kept up to date.
Agricultural contractors provide an important service to farmers, particularly at these busy times of the year. Many of the services provided to farmers by contractors, such as slurry spreading, harvesting silage, also involve serious safety risks if they are not correctly planned and managed. Drivers have been with the team for many years and thankfully, there have been no major incidents.
“Health and Safety is a key part of the business. Times have changed a lot over the years and the main focus is ensuring that everyone gets through the day safely.”
Paudie was adamant that he wanted the customers thanked for their support over the years, many of whom have been with them since the start.
“Our customers have been very loyal to us over the years and we are very appreciative of the support they have given us. We know that time is of the essence when it comes to contracting work and our aim is to get in and do the job as quickly as possible and as efficiently as possible.”
Groundwork and plant hire are also part of the services provided, while mulching is a popular service also. The company is also contracted by Coillte to carry out forestry work, which is another string to their already impressive bow. The firm is also contracted by many construction and forestry companies, supplying over ten excavators, bulldozers and dumpers of all sizes to housing estates, roads, reforestation sites and others, all year round, which is another string to their already impressive bow.
Aside from the contracting work, the Cronin’s also farm about 60 acres where they rare dry stock, meaning that there is little downtime for any of them.
“It would be fairly busy here all the time and I suppose credit must go to the wives, partners and kids for putting up with us. It can be difficult at times, but in fairness to them they are very understanding and without their support, it would be impossible to get the work done.”
For 46 years now, Pat Cronin & Sons has been supplying specialised services to their customers and they look set to carry on doing so for another generation or two at the very least.
Pat Cronin & Sons
Call (064) 664 3218
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 8 No 3, October/November 2020