8 March 2002

Irish eye much larger slice of export markets

Irelands agricultural

machinery business is

having a buoyant time, it

appears. While UK

manufacturers suffer from

poor exchange rates, key

producers in Eire are

investing in new products

to meet demand from an

export-led sales boom.

Mike Williams reports

THE UK is easily the biggest export market for Irish-built farm machinery. Deliveries to the UK increased by 35% last year compared with the 2000 total, and a further rise of 15-20% is forecast for this year, according to Enterprise Ireland, the countrys trade development body.

Most of Irelands machinery production is aimed at the livest-ock sector, with bale wrappers providing the biggest export success.

Tanco, which has changed its name to Tanco Autowrap following its recent merger with Norways Telefsdal bale wrapping business, expects to more than double its turnover in the next three years.

Telefsdal production will be switched to the Tanco factory, and the result is said to be the worlds most comprehensive bale wrapper range.

Some of the growth forecast is based on predictions for the Bale Processor, Tancos bale-and-wrap machine. Although a patent dispute with Kverneland over their Bale-in-One combination remains unresolved, limited numbers of the production version of the Tanco machine will be available this year.

The machines have a £35,000 estimated UK list price and feature mechanical drives instead of the hydraulics on prototype models.

Lee Choo, Tancos managing director, says an important advantage of the Bale Processor compared with other baler/wrapper combinations is its more compact size to allow easier operation in small fields.

Although the Tanco machine has to stop during bale wrapping, this is more than offset by a 17% increase in bale size due to the 1.3m bale diameter instead of the usual 1.2m. Output is 35 bale per hour, he claims.

McHale Engineering is also developing a bale-and-wrap machine, which could be launched at Smithfield Show in December if this seasons trials are successful.

The company, which claims a 50% share of the UK bale wrapper market, opened a new factory last year to double its production capacity. The new two-in-one baler/wrapper is still on the secret list, but it is said to be much more compact than existing combination machines but allows baling and wrapping as a non-stop operation.

Developments from Cashels Engineering include a one-man loading and transport system for moving round bales from the field to the wrapping site.

The bales are picked up by three-point linkage mounted double spike attachment on a telescopic frame with sufficient lift height to lay the bales on the bed of the special trailer.

When the trailer is loaded with eight bales, the tractor with the loading attachment still on the rear linkage is hitched on to the trailer for the journey to the wrapping area.

The trailer has a rear tailgate which is latched in the upright position while transporting the bales, but the latch can be released manually from the tractor cab to allow the bales to roll off when the front of the trailer bed is raised hydraulically.

It is a bale handling system based on a local contractors idea and is new for this year. UK prices are £3300 for the eight-bale trailer and £530 for the high-lift bale loader. The loader can also be used for handling wrapped bales by removing the spikes and fitting special ducks foot attachments which can cradle the bales without damaging the wrapping film.

Abbey Farm Equipment has moved into the diet feeder-mixer market with a new vertical tub type machine.

It is available with 11cu m and 13cu m capacity and both versions are mounted on twin wheels and have a vertical auger mixing mechanism with a two-speed planetary gear drive.

The mechanism can handle silage, straw or hay in round bales plus root crops and straights. A front discharge elevator can un-load to either side and the options list includes an elevator extension with a hydraulic folding action.

Specification includes a four-point weighing system, hydraulic brakes and full road lighting. UK prices start at £20,777.

Also new from Abbey is a range of twin disc fertiliser spreaders to supplement its existing pendulum type machines.

The new spreaders feature corrosion resistant polyester fibreglass hoppers, a frame with a quick-attach hitch system and an oil-filled gearbox. The discs and blades are of stainless steel and there is a twin ram hydraulic control system to restrict the spreading action at field boundaries.

Six models are available with hopper capacities ranging from 650 to 1450 litres, the spreading width is adjustable between 9m and 16m and prices start at £2045 for the 650 litre version.

The next big development in the Keenan range of mixer/feeder wagons is likely to be the companys first self-propelled model.

Keenan has joined forces with a German company to develop the new machine, which will be aimed mainly at the east European market, although the biggest UK dairy and beef units may also be potential customers.

Keenan claims its current Klassik range of tractor powered machines has captured about 60% of the UK market.

Future developments in automation on dairy farms will include systems for diverting some of the milk as part of a quota management system. This prediction comes from Dairymaster, the biggest manufacturer of milking equipment in Ireland, and the company says a production version is only a few months away.

The milk diversion system is fed with target composition figures and automatically ensures that milk of the optimum quality goes into the bulk tank to meet quota commitments, while the excess includes milk that fails to meet these compositional standards.

Dairymasters Edmond Harty says the same equipment could also be used to divert milk on a compositional basis for cheese making and other processing requirements. &#42