All systems go at Smith’s Farm Plastic Recycling & Agri Contractors!

22 Feb , 2023  

There’s never a dull moment at Smith’s Farm Plastic Recycling & Agri Contractors and, due to the wide-ranging nature of daily activities, no two days are the same for Ronan Smith and his trusty team. We interrupted the Cavan farmer, contractor and entrepreneur’s hectic schedule to get an update on his expanding operations.

As well as running dairy and suckler herds at Carnin, Ballyjamesduff, Ronan Smith is an IFFPG-approved farm plastic recycling contractor and has been providing value-added agri contracting services since 1989.

In response to steady growth across all aspects of his business – and in order to ensure that he continues to invariably offer customers the best possible service – consistently investment in fleet upgrades and expansion has been very much the theme at Smith’s Farm Plastic Recycling & Agri Contractors in recent times.

“We’re very busy and we’ve bought a lot of new machinery both for the plastics recycling and agri contracting,” Ronan confirms. “I took on extra counties for the farms plastics collection and recycling and had to buy bigger and better kit. We were already covering Cavan, Monaghan, Westmeath, Longford and Donegal but have since added Meath, Louth, Dublin, Kildare, Laois and Offaly, so we needed more equipment to service all of those regions – eleven counties in total, at the moment.”

As an approved IFFPG contractor, Smith’s Farm Plastic Recycling collect for recycling all forms of farm plastic, silage wrap, silage pit covers, chemical containers, netting, twine, fertiliser and feed bags predominantly from designated bring centres and also from farmyards in the aforementioned counties.

One of the many noteworthy additions to the fleet is a new JCB Fastrac, which was purchased from ECI JCB in Dublin. “We were thinking of getting another lorry but there are a lot of considerations when putting a lorry on the road so we went for the Fastrac, which is a good machine and a good investment with the way the price of everything seems to have doubled. A couple of years ago €100,000 would have been considered a lot for a new tractor but you’re talking €150,000 to €200,000 these days, which is a massive increase.”

Ronan has also purchased two new Hitachi 130s with grapples, one of which is on full-time duty at the bring centres, while the two older diggers remain in use at home. Meanwhile, a couple of 24-foot Smyth trailers were acquired from Philip O’Hara at Leinster Farm Machines.

“We have two lorries doing the farm-to-farm collections full time and there’s a third one here as well, which I take out myself any time I’m needed,” Ronan adds. “The farm plastics recycling side of the business has really grown and we have expanded our facilities at the yard to accommodate the extra plastic coming in. To collect materials from the bring centres, we hire in guys with lorries and walking floors – namely J&G Haulage and McMullan Transport, both of whom do a great job.”

Activities are divided almost exactly 50:50 between plastic recycling and agri contracting. On the contracting front, Ronan provides complete services and there have been a couple of recent additions to the tractor fleet, which now features a total of ten Massey Fergusons.

“Last year I bought a new 7719 Vario Massey out of Martin’s Garage in Bailieboro and I like it a lot,” he reveals. “It’s a nice tractor to work with, especially for baling. It’s good on the road, too, and selects its own gear going up and down hills. Indeed, I liked it so much that I got a second one!

“We’re also very busy at baling and have three Fusion balers, two with the plastic in them instead of the net, which is the way to go. It ferments better and you get better bales. We got the first of those four or five year ago and added the second one last year. Both those Fusion 3 Plus balers were bought from Clarke Machinery. The older baler is one I hold onto as a spare for when it gets particularly busy.

“There has been a real increase in baling and good demand for it. It’s handy for the smaller farmer as you have the option of using one bale today or ten today, which you can’t do with open pit, but at the end of the day it all comes down to what the preferences are of each individual farmer.

“We have also increased our mower numbers. We got new Kverneland front and rear mowers a couple of years ago and this year we got another two sets of Krones off Martin’s Garage. We had to get extra mowers once the self-propelled arrived.”

With regards to the upgrade to a Claas self-propelled harvester, the Cavan contractor continues: “I bought a trailed harvester two years ago to do our own cutting and also to cut for a couple of neighbours but we got very busy with it and in the end it wasn’t speedy enough. So I bought a second-hand Claas 870 self-propelled from Leinster Farm Machines.

“Of course, when that arrived the small teleporter we had for the trailed harvester had to be upgraded to a bigger loader so we got a TM320S from ECI. Second hand again but I knew the previous owner and knew exactly where it was coming from.”

For slurry, Ronin can do tanker work, has a dribble bar on one of the tankers and he also runs two pipe systems with dribble bars. He also ferries a lot of slurry and invested in a 5,000-gallon tanker to complement his two 3,000 gallon tankers so that he could shift as much as possible in a short space of time.

Smith’s Farm Plastic Recycling & Agri Contractors is very much a family-run business and Ronin is quick to pay tribute to the invaluable input of his staff, with gainful employment currently generated for 10+. Alongside himself, brother Jim and sons Ross and Mark, there are three full-time lads Darren, Conor and Ben as well as Gerry and Tom collecting plastic in the lorries, two lads in the yard baling plastic and getting it ready for export (Grigori and Yarrick), Bernie looking after accounts and Ronin’s wife Barbara taking orders, organising collections and deliveries, paying bills, ordering diesel and essentially running the show from behind the scenes.

Despite the damage being inflicted on all households and businesses by the cost-of-living crisis, Ronan – who milks 125 cows and put in a new 32-unit milking parlour in 2020 – says 2022 was a good year for Smith’s Farm Plastic Recycling & Agri Contractors:

“The price of diesel is eating into profits and putting pressure on everybody but it was a great year for agri, one of the best in a while,” he concludes. “Ground conditions were excellent and the self-propelled was a great job because you can whip out 50 or 60 acres in a day of cutting.

“That’s massive because when a farmer rings he wants it done now. No one is prepared to wait anymore and that’s why you need good equipment. If you don’t have it, you are wasting your time.”

Smith’s Farm Plastic Recycling & Agri Contractors,



County Cavan.

Tel: 086 2506129

Email: [email protected]

First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 1, January/February 2023