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Noel Dunne
Machinery Editor

Playing catch up

Well, my friends, spring may have reared its head last month, but it wasn’t long about retreating.

As we lumbered our way through March, the normally busy country roads had plenty of feed mill trucks but few fertiliser loads moving deliveries onto farms. Livestock that should have been in fields were still in sheds. Fertiliser spreaders and slurry tankers, ploughs and drills were notable only by their absence. We had snow, sleet and rain with the odd ‘pet’ day of sunshine, not nearly enough to dry the land and allow normal agricultural practice to resume. It has become one of the latest springs in my memory and work has piled up even as the daylight hours lengthen. Farmer morale has been hammered.
A week of dry weather would transform the landscape. Even heavier soils dry out quickly when longer days, sunshine and higher temperatures do their work on nature. When that happens, the tractors will operate around the clock to catch up on ploughing, sowing, spraying, fertilising, slurry spreading and moving livestock to far-away fields. While the tribulations of spring 2024 will not be easily forgotten, farmer confidence will improve quickly.
Now down to the business in hand, and here is a roundup of all the recent developments that caught my attention. John Deere has been busy with the launch of its most powerful tractor yet, the flagship 9RX range with horsepowers ranging from 781hp up to 913hp. We will have more on this in a later issue.
In addition, John Deere has just launched the new S7combine range, which will come in four new models, replacing the current S7 range. 
Argo Tractors Ireland has appointed a new Landini dealer in Co. Laois – W&E Shirley Ltd., based in Ballacolla.
Kverneland Ireland has just announced a new finance offer on new machinery – well worth checking out in your local dealer. Finance offers are also available from Pöttinger, Krone, Amazone and Kuhn.
A new museum dedicated to the life of Harry Ferguson opened last month in Kilrush, Co. Clare beside the Museum of Irish Rural Life. This Massey Ferguson museum was developed by Joe Whelan Snr, of Whelans Garage Kilrush and features 12 restored vintage Masseys! Well worth checking out.
Staying with Massey, the company has just updated for this season the Xtra and Protec round baler ranges. Further details are available from dealers nationwide.
M&S Machinery, located in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, and headed up by father and son duo of Pat and Paudie Slattery, has been awarded Irish New Holland Dealer of the Year Award and was also successful in the Construction Equipment Dealer of the Year award. Congratulations to the Slatterys!
Claas has just launched a new generation of front loaders for its Elios, Axos and Arion tractor ranges up to 180hp, with six new models in the range.
Amazone Pantera self-propelled sprayers have hit the ground in Ireland with one going to north Co. Dublin and the other to Co. Kildare, both sold by Leinster Hydraulics and Farm Machinery, based in Dublin.
Meanwhile, the Irish farming sector is facing a serious shortage of agricultural contractors as many have been getting out of the business for various reasons over the last few years. The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has just released the contractors’ charges for all areas of work. They show a four per cent increase year on year. Contractors are a valuable part of your business. If they go, your costs rise. We must ensure that we pay them on time every time.
On a lighter note, the highly popular ‘Contractors Show’ returned recently to TG4. It runs from 9.30pm to 10.30pm every Thursday and covers the daily workings of eight contractors over the series. 

And finally, a reminder that the 2024 edition of the Irish Farm Machinery & Equipment Yearbook, which the team here has been busy working on, will be out later in the month. It is packed with great stories and features and full listings of all available machinery!

Until next month, farm wisely, farm safely.