Two decades of excellence

14 Aug , 2015  

For the past 20 years, Gorthill Farm Contracting has been providing an exceptional agricultural contracting service to farmers in County Londonderry and beyond. We caught up with brothers Johnny and Ryan Boggs to take a closer look at their superb fleet of machinery and the wide range of services provided.

Renowned island-wide for providing top-class willow harvesting and mulching services, Gorthill Farm Contracting is one of Ireland’s premium agricultural contracting specialists. The business, which was established in the early 1990s by brothers Johnny and Ryan, continues the Boggs family’s long and proud association with farming in Derry and further afield.

Operating from their well-appointed base in Eglinton, Gorthill Farm Contracting serves the north west of Northern Ireland with a dependable and comprehensive general contractive service, while their more specialist activities bring them nationwide, as far south as the banks of the Lee. The founders of the company were born and  bred into agriculture…

Reflecting on the genesis of the family business, Ryan Boggs notes: “The two of us set up Gorthill Farm Contracting twenty years ago. Our father, William Ernest Boggs, has been farming all his life, as was our late grandfather, James, before that.”

Alas, the third generation of the Boggs family was almost destined for a life on the farm… “We grew up on a farm and we’re still at it – for our sins,” Johnny quips. “We originally did dairy farming and contracting but we gave up the dairy farming eventually and now do arable work on the ground and the contracting.”

Gorthill Farm Contracting has developed a particular expertise in willow harvesting over the years and is now regarded as the premier willow harvester in Ireland, covering from Derry to Cork with this specialist service. This is a unique service and they were the first contractors on the island to provide it. “We started willow harvesting about eight years ago,” says Ryan. “We also do mulching, North and South – willow, trees, stones etc. – which is another specialist area requiring specialist machinery.”

The rest of the work would be closer to home. ‘Local’ for the Boggs brothers means within the greater Derry, Antrim, Tyrone catchment area, from Omagh / Strabane direction over to Ballymoney. Wherever the work is, essentially.

Fleet-wise, Gorthill Farm Contracting operates five stunning Fendt tractors, which were purchased together brand new in June, 2013, as well as a Claas combine, two Claas self-propelled harvesters, two loading shovels (one JCB, one Manitou) and a JCB digger (for drainage / site clearance etc.).

Why Fendt? “Because they are the best. They’re the best we’ve used so far, anyway. We initially ran Masseys and then John Deere but we find that the Fendts are better suited to our own requirements. I wouldn’t knock anything else, but we just prefer to use Fendt. We like them and we have a good dealer here – John McElderry in Ballymoney – who provides a great service,” says Ryan.

Customer loyalty is of course vital in agri contracting and, to this end, Gorthill Farm Contracting, has been providing its services to many of the same families over the past twenty years. They have managed to hold onto these customers by providing a keen service and moving with the times:
“Things have evolved a lot,” Johnny notes. “There were a lot of jobs we started doing and then others came along and started providing the same services, so sometimes we moved on to other things. It’s a very competitive business and you have to try to stay a step ahead of the competition.”

The Boggs brothers keep themselves busy with a lot of slurry, manure spreading and drilling (using a six-metre drill). If requested, they can also provide a full service comprising sowing, spraying and cutting. Other services supplied include baling (square bale and wrap) and silage (including wholecrop silage) as well as beet harvesting. “As we purchased a harvester to do our own beet harvesting, we will offer that service to other farmers in the area,” Ryan notes.

“As well as contracting, we also grow 500 acres of crops ourselves – barley, wheat, oats, oilseed rape and beet.”

The stunning fleet (check out their Facebook page for more action shots…) – combined with years of experience – ensures that every job is completed to the highest possible standard and complete customer satisfaction is always guaranteed. All equipment is kept in pristine condition and access to a fresh fleet of machinery ensures that each job is carried out with maximum efficiency and minimum fuss.

Regarding the possibility of upgrading the fleet any time soon, Johnny points out: “We don’t have any real policy for changing them. It really just depends on how things are going at any given time. You like to change them and keep them as new as possible, so we’ll see what happens. At the moment, however, we are very happy with all the equipment we’re running.”

Farming has provided a way of life for the Boggs family for three generations and the signs are encouraging that the fourth generation will one day assume the mantle. “Ryan has a ten-year-old son, Max James, and he’s mad for it, so he’ll probably go down this road as well.”

Gorthill Farm Contracting employs up to nine people between full-time and part-time workers, during peak times. “I wouldn’t say we are booming by any stretch of the imagination but we are staying on and holding our own,” Ryan concludes. “The weather dictates things to a large extent, because we are so far north, so we’re hoping the elements will be kind to us in 2015.”

Gorthill Farm Contracting,
19a Backhill Rd,
County Londonderry,
BT47 3JR
Northern Ireland
Tel:  028 7181 0239.

Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 2 No 7, December 2014