Green Line Agri & Plant Services has been providing a top-class contracting service to farmers within a 15-mile radius of its Donohill, Co. Tipperary base since 1999.
A native of Thomastown, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Darren Leopold set up the business two years after moving to Donohill to do an apprenticeship in farm management. He has received tremendous support from the local farming community over the years as well as from his wife Sinead, daughter Erica and son DJ. An up-and-coming rugby player, DJ is a great help to Darren and has inherited his passion for farm machinery. The main services offered by Darren are baled silage, slurry spreading and plant hire.
Committed to providing superior service and complete customer satisfaction, Green Line Agri & Plant Services has 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 expertise of its staff as well as the quality of its machinery. Darren and his highly-skilled and highly-motivated team deliver the value and quality farmers expect from their agricultural contracting partner.
Darren runs a modern fleet of Deutz-Fahr and Lamborghini tractors. His Deutz-Fahr are a 2004-reg 130.7, a 2006-reg 150.7, a 2007-reg 1160 TTV, a 2011-reg 6020 TTV and a 2012-reg 6020 TTV. The only Lamborghini in the fleet is a 2008-reg 140 DCR. Most of the Deutz-Fahr were purchased second-hand from Jamie Kelly of Kelvale Agri Machinery in Slieverue, Co. Kilkenny.
“I’m a big fan of Deutz. They tick all the boxes for me. Any slight issues we’ve had with them have been easily sorted. They’re a good solid and economical tractor,” says Darren, who carries out relief milking and maintenance fencing at quieter times.
His grass machinery includes a McHale Fusion 3 Plus, a McHale Fusion 2, a Malone tedder, Krone side-mounted and front-mounted mowers, a John Deere 1365 trail mower and a Krone 760 TC rake supplied by Michael Eardley Farm Machinery in Kilkenny. The McHale balers came from M&S Machinery in Cashel.
“We make about 9,500 bales a year,” he explains.
“That figure has reduced from about 12,000 a few years ago due to an increase in zero grazing and a more competitive baled silage market. It’s become very cut-throat, but we do the best that we can for everyone.”
For slurry, Darren runs a Slurrykat 2,750-gallon tanker which was purchased new from Bailey Machinery Sales in Mountrath, Co. Laois two years ago. He also has a Cross 2,250-gallon tanker which is retrofitted with a Slurryquip dribble bar supplied by Liam Richardson in Aherlow, Co. Tipperary, and a new Cross agitator supplied by Paddy Burke Farm Machinery in Tipperary town.
In addition, Darren has a Fiat Hitachi FK EX 135 digger that is used for land reclamation, drainage, site preparation and roadways work. He also has two Dooley bale trailers, another pair of Dooley dump trailers, a Dooley low loader and a Dooley tipper trailer.
All machines are maintained and serviced on a regular basis to avoid downtime, with most of this being carried out in-house. The affable agri contractor has built up a large and loyal client-base in Donohill, Tipperary town, Dundrum, Cappawhite and surrounding areas.
“I’ve been working for a lot of the same people for 20 years and have built the business – and the fleet – up slowly but surely,” Darren continues.
“I always strive to do exactly what I say I’m going to do. I give the farmer the service he wants when he wants it and at a price that he thinks is right. Once you do that, the chances are good that he’ll come back and do business again.
“The first service that I provided more than 20 years ago was relief milking. In the last few years, I have been keeping the milking to a select few original customers and don’t take on any new milking jobs.
“I’ve managed to create a customer base that is sustainable and, as I’ve expanded, I’ve gone back and bought better machinery so that I can improve the service. A one-off customer is no good; you need to be building lasting relationships. With more and more repeat business, you can grow organically and sustainably. You can create a proper customer base, build up your machinery in a sustainable manner and gather momentum, with a steady flow of work.”
Darren has been a member of the Association of Farm Contractors in Ireland (FCI) since 2019. The FCI was formed in 2012 to give agricultural contractors a voice at Government and EU level. Its other objectives are to promote good contractor / farmer relationships; to promote the benefits of a good agricultural contracting service; to provide members with knowledge and courses to help them run their business; to promote a good working relationship between contractors.
“I have aired my concerns about the future of agri contracting through them,” Darren says.
“There have been big changes in the sector over the last five years which haven’t been for the better. You’re now treated almost like a fire service because people aren’t prepared to wait. They want the work done immediately and that’s leading to a situation where it’s either a feast or a famine for agri contractors. The busy spells are getting shorter and more intensive, while the quiet spells are becoming longer and more frequent.
“Furthermore, slurry and hedge-cutting regulations are compounded by all kinds of weather. The Irish climate has become so unpredictable that it’s difficult to plan anything.
“In addition, the sector doesn’t pay well because of the inconsistency of the work. Very few young people are getting into contracting and it’s easy to see why. On top of that, the cost of machinery and parts has gone crazy in recent times. While our rates have gone up, we’re still not making a decent profit. I’d fear for the future of contracting to be honest.”
Despite all the challenges facing the sector, Darren remains as passionate as ever about agri contracting and looking after his valued customers. He would like to take this opportunity to thank them, his suppliers and team members for their continued support.
Green Line Agri & Plant Services
Telephone: 087 2795873
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 4, August/September 2023