Based outside of Mallow, Co Cork, AG Ross Agri Ltd is a leader when it comes to agri services in the North Cork region. Irish Tractor Agri & Plant spoke with Alan Ross to learn more about the ins and outs of a proud family business that has origins dating back more than four decades.
AG Ross Agri Ltd is an agri contracting business that is renowned for its excellent service amongst its customers.
Today, business is good for Alan Ross and the rest of the team operating from Ballyhooly, Mallow,
Co Cork and the plan is to try and keep things that way right through to next year.
While AG Ross Agri Ltd was officially established in 2019, this year marks 55 years since Alan’s grandfather Michael Ross took the decision to hand over the reins of his contracting business to his sons.
It saw George running the contracting and tillage end of the business (it traded as George Ross up until 2019) George is still very involved in the business and does all spraying tillage crops.
Fast-forward to the present and Alan is heading up an operation which is a third-generation agri contracting business with five full-time staff on its books and another 13 part-time during the busy summer season.
Indeed it could well be a fourth generation business in the years to come with Alan’s children Fionn, Conal and Aoibh all showing a huge interest in tractors.
Right now, business is going well in spite of all the challenges out there at the moment for agri contracting companies like AG Ross Agri Ltd.
“Business is good but costs are rising like mad,” Alan outlined. “Diesel costs have been crazy and we do tillage here too, so we’ve diggers as well and have kind of a diverse contracting business.
“I don’t know how guys can just do slurry and silage to survive to just be honest because you need to be diverse nowadays. You can’t just have all your eggs in one basket.
“It all helps to keep you busy year-round and it’s very seasonal work.”
Alan and his team cover a 25-mile radius of Ballyhooly and the range of services in which they provide for clients sees them first choice for so many within that catchment area.
As it stands, AG Ross Agri Ltd offers its customers full services in pit-silage from start to finish, as well as baled silage, slurry, dung spreading, reseeding, maize drilling, whole-crop wheat harvesting, ploughing and bale haulage. Mulching with diggers has also taken off recently.
In the winter, the company’s focus is namely on hedge cutting services, land drainage and land reclamation while site work services are also provided.
It all combines to ensure that they stay busy year-round down in Ballyhooly and, of course, the machinery fleet it runs is constantly maintained to the highest standards.
AG Ross Agri Ltd currently operates with 18 Deutz-Fahr tractors in its fleet, with another “three or four” John Deere machines hired during peak time in the summer.
When it comes to slurry spreading, the Cork venture runs two Slurryquip umbilical slurry systems and a couple of Abbey slurry tanks with agitators.
Alan outlined that while there has been a recent new addition to his company’s machinery collection, he’s still opting for a more cautious approach to new additions this year given the overall costs at present.
“We just purchased a low-loader here but there’s nothing yet with grass machinery,” he said.
“I’m more worried about the cost going forward this year because everything has gone up high now and is staying high. Fuel has gone down to $85 a barrel but it’s still very high at the pumps and stuff, so it’s still hard there for the smaller contractor.
“Diesel and fertiliser companies are charging huge prices and they need to bring it down for all of us to survive.
‘”Fuel costs and labour are my biggest concerns going forward. We are now looking overseas for guys, even to New Zealand.”
Nonetheless, business remains good for AG Ross Agri Ltd and the Ross name itself is one that’s tried and trusted when it comes to agri contracting services around North Cork.
More than a dozen of the same customers have remained loyal to the family business since back when Michael Ross was running his operation, which is something that speaks volumes about the continued quality standard of work delivered through the generations.
Ask Alan why he feels customers choose the company first ahead of other competitors out there and he’ll put it to you plainly.
“I think we give a good service and will always try and help them out as well,” said the Rebel County native.
“We’ll always be there for them any time of the day and always give a fair service. My dad would’ve always been very straight in business.
“As well as that, we’d always put the customer first here. We’d prefer having repeat business than one-off business and my dad always would’ve had a good relationship picked up with people over the years.
“My dad was always looking at innovation to into what the farmers wanted and different things. He would’ve always been looking to keep up with things like.”
Along with the agri contracting operation, the Ross clan also run a tillage enterprise which comprises of around 700 acres (100 owned, 600 rented) of winter barley and maize grown for local dairy farmers.
It all helps to keep them busy 12 months of the year down in Ballyhooly and, looking towards the months ahead, Alan is hoping for more of the same with the possibility of maybe making one or two upgrades to the fleet along the way.
“We’ve been thinking of changing one or two machines but, like that, we’ll just wait and see now the lay of the land over the next while,” he concluded.
AG Ross Agri Ltd.,
Tel: 087 772 2128
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 2, March/April 2023