TENSE TIMES AHEAD
But looking forward to the Service Dealer Conference and Awards
The theme of the conference that takes place this Thursday is ‘Smart Working’, an appropriate theme, considering the times we are living in.
Just when we thought things were improving, I hear that Covid-19 cases are rapidly rising in Ireland. This is not good news, especially as we head into the festive season. I really hope that we don’t go down the road of more restrictions and, God forbid, another lockdown.
I fear that these high numbers could threaten trade shows and demo days planned for 2022.
Having said that, the Service Dealer Conference and Awards will be going ahead, as planned, this Thursday (25th November) at the Double Tree by Hilton Oxford Belfry. I will be there and am looking forward to meeting everyone attending. I hope that there will be some Irish dealers attending as well. The theme of the conference is ‘Smart Working’, an appropriate theme, considering the times we are living in.
Service Dealer owner, Duncan Murray-Clarke, explained, “Smart Working is a concept that we know many dealers will have adopted over these past 18 months. At the conference, our expert speakers will fully expand on the idea, opening the discussion out for the benefit of all”. This rings true as many businesses had to quickly adapt. Many opted for some of their staff to work from home and had to resort to selling equipment online, in order to survive. On foot of the recent Covid-19 figures, it looks like this could be happening again.
The conference will include top class speakers as well as having breakout sessions and round table discussions. Speakers include the return of Ed Gillespie, the popular futurist speaker as well as award winning TedX speaker, Teresa Heath-Waring and Sam Watson-Jones, the founder of Small Robot Company. Sam will be exploring The Fourth Agricultural Revolution – which he believes is coming sooner than you think! I will be especially looking forward to hearing what Sam has to say about that.
The Awards will take place on the evening of the conference. This year, in particular, will recognise the extra efforts dealerships and their staff have made during the past 18 months of the pandemic. A special one-off award, called, The Extra-Mile Award, will be given to a dealership that may, for example, have helped people within their community.
It was a good news story recently when it was announced that apprenticeships will be included on the CAO portal for the first time. Apprenticeships are often perceived as the poor alternative to going to university. Students will now be able to access information on national apprenticeships as well as the courses available in higher education. This should make it easier for students, who want to make a career as a mechanic or technician in the agricultural machinery sector, to get the information they need, before applying for a course. Our industry needs more skilled people in the workforce and there is still a shortage of qualified personnel, particularly mechanics and technicians. Attracting and holding onto skilled staff is still a big challenge that our industry faces.
FIRST FULLY ELECTRIC TRACTOR INTRODUCED IN IRELAND
Major coup for distributor
New Irish importer for the Farmtrac range of compact, mid-size and agricultural tractors has been named.
Reesink Ireland have announced that they have been appointed as the new Irish importer for the Farmtrac range of compact, mid-size and agricultural tractors. This is a major coup for Reesink with Farmtrac also introducing the first fully electric tractor to the Irish market.
Tomás Cooney, general manager Reesink Ireland with one of the Farmtrac all electric tractors
General manager Tomás Cooney said, “We have had very positive feedback from our colleagues in Reesink UK LTD who were appointed importers in 2019. Based on their experience we’re delighted to add Farmtrac to our current product range, which includes Toro turfcare equipment and Trilo vacuum sweepers and leaf blowers”.
Farmtrac is part of the Escorts Limited group based in India which has been producing tractors since 1961 and is among the world’s top 10 tractor manufacturers with over 1 million tractors sold since its inception. With production plants and an after-sales support organisation in both India and Poland, Farmtrac’s philosophy has always been to deliver a simple and reliable design – without an excessive amount of electronics.
The tractor range of Farmtrac has been developed using components from manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Perkins, MITA, Carraro and BKT. These components provide reliability and reassurance to customers with all models meeting current legislation and emissions regulations. It starts from a small 21hp compact model and grows to a full size offering at 113hp. The range is made up of six different diesel-powered models as well as an all-electric model.
Pictured are the Reesink Ireland team with the Farmtrac range, from left: Killian Carroll, service engineer; Edwin Abbott, parts advisor; Barbara Murphy, accounting manager; Tomás Cooney, general manager; Brendan Barrett, area sales manager; Mark Bagnall, service engineer and Michael Fleming, operations manager
Reesink Ireland say they are very excited about the potential of the FT25G electric tractor. Cooney went on to say: “We believe it has more than enough power to be a useful, reliable and practical alternative. It will be a very interesting proposition for stud farms, nurseries, local authorities and golf courses with its compact size, zero emissions and low noise levels. Then FT25G is fully chargeable from a domestic socket in five hours and able to run for up to six hours ensuring productivity won’t suffer by the decision to go green. We are already seeing a high level of interest in this model from our current customer base which is not surprising given the increasing level of interest in general in electric vehicles he enthused”.
Having just received their first consignment of tractors Cooney went on to explain that Reesink Ireland would initially be concentrating on the compact and mid-size tractor ranges which will be promoted from their retail branch in Nurney Co. Kildare. “Once all the necessary internal training on service and parts has been completed we will then establish a dealer network to support the complete tractor range nationwide”, he concluded.
IRISH HIRE COMPANY WORKS TOWARDS CARBON NEUTRALITY
Company has announced measures taken and their further plans for 2022.
Not letting the importance of climate change pass them by, Barry Drennan, managing director of Golfhire.ie has decided to make an effort in making his business more carbon neutral.
Barry Drennan, director (left) and Simon Connaughton, operations manager with GolfHire.ie planting one of the trees
“For any of us in the golf course industry, it’s obvious how much the climate is warming up. I remember many years ago winter service meant collecting all the golf course machinery after Halloween and having it back to the customer for St. Patricks Day. Now the mowing season is nearly all year round. We are hiring Vredo Overseeder’s in November and Procore 648’s in January” said Barry.
He continued by saying “I felt we had to start doing our bit to reduce our impact on the climate.
In 2020 we completed a survey of our business to measure our carbon footprint. This gave us something to work with and we set about doing what we could to reduce our carbon emissions and be more eco-friendly. We were already recycling all our waste paper, steel, oil filters etc. Our waste oil heater was the first to go. We then set about harvesting rain water from the roof into a huge tank, which now supplies 100% of the water we use in our wash bay.”
But it didn’t just stop there for the County Meath business. Other areas that were looked at included:
- Replacing one diesel vehicle with an EV
- Purchasing three acres of woodland to begin the carbon offsetting process
- Purchasing a further ten acres of farmland to rewild with trees and wild flowers
- Reducing staff air miles (thanking Corona virus for that initiative)
- Cycling to work more often
Plans for 2022 include:
- Planting 200 trees – one for every machine on their hire fleet (and a few spares)
- Replacing all the workshop lighting with LED
- As they are leasing the workshop, solar panels are not an option but they are planning to move to an electric supplier using 100% renewable energy
“There is still so much we can do but we wanted to make a start” concluded Barry.
HUSQVARNA REVEAL LATEST IN B&S DISPUTE
Update on engine supply
The manufacturer has issued an update on the dispute regarding the supply of engines for ride-on mowers.
MAJOR TURNAROUND UNDERWAY
Husqvarna Group and Briggs & Stratton, LLC (B&S) have announced that a settlement has been reached with regards to the supply of engines for ride-on mowers.
Under the terms of the settlement, B&S will provide the majority of the engines needed ahead of the 2022 season. Additionally, the parties have agreed to maintain a modified supply relationship into the 2023 season.
Husqvarna Group previously issued a statement regarding a potential negative financial impact in 2022 as a result of a lack of engine supply. The settlement means that the lawsuit against B&S is withdrawn, and Husqvarna Group have said they no longer anticipate a material financial impact from this issue.
“We have achieved a satisfactory outcome that allows us to secure products for our customers in 2022,” says Glen Instone, acting president Husqvarna Division and CFO Husqvarna Group.
At Johnstown Castle, Wexford
Together, with Teagasc, the Irish Heritage Trust works to sustainably develop and conserve the grounds for the benefit of the wider community.
The history of Johnstown Castle stretches over 800 years. The current rendition of the gardens and estate began in the 1800s when Daniel Robertson designed the Gothic Revival castle and surrounding land in Co Wexford. When the site was finished by 1872, the demesne included a deer park, artificial lakes – including the County’s largest freshwater lake – and landscaped gardens.
Ciarán Fitzgerald, head gardener at Johnstown Castle
Today, the 150-acre estate includes the castle, woodlands and lakes, and the Irish Agricultural Museum in the castle courtyard. Together, with Teagasc, the Irish Heritage Trust works to sustainably develop and conserve the grounds for the benefit of the wider community.
Head gardener Ciarán Fitzgerald and two full time gardeners look after the grounds. “We cover all aspects of the grounds including four acres of the walled garden and nursery production,” begins Ciarán. “We have a fantastic volunteer team which come in two days a week to help get through the work that needs to be done.”
Ciarán has much on his plate since he joined as head gardener two years ago. He is spearheading the rewilding of the estate or returning the grounds to its natural state and reintroducing native wildlife to restore the natural ecosystem. “Basically, everything outside the walled garden will only ever be native plants.
“We want to increase our biodiversity in this site,” continues Ciarán. “We have trail cameras around the grounds and so far we've tracked every native land mammal in Ireland here on Johnstown. We really want to build up those numbers so we're doing everything in our power to entice them back in.”
When Ciarán began there was 22 acres of lawn being cut. It’s now reduced to nine acres with five acres left as rough grassland. “We’ll cut it every five years so shrew and field mice numbers can increase, which in turn will increase our owl numbers.”
The Major Flail Collector plays a crucial role in rewilding the historic Johnstown Castle Gardens and Estate in Co Wexford
The rest of the grounds will be native hay meadow, which will be cut annually. The Major Flail Collector plays a crucial role in this vision. “We need to take the grass off after cutting because grass left on raises the nutrient level, and our native wildflowers prefer lower nutrient soil,” explains Ciarán. “Having the Major Flail Collector will make a world of difference. It’ll make it much easier to extract the grass and allow us to develop meadows much quicker than if it was a just a normal mower.
“The majority of the meadows we're cutting is near the arboretum or around sparsely planted woodland, which means there's going to be lots of twigs in the ground or hiding in the high grass,” continues Ciarán. “The flail mower is reliable and robust; it can take a bit of cutting. And we can get in much quicker and get a much cleaner cut.”
The collector capacity was initially a worry for the team, but it has been alleviated. “Because we’re getting the smaller model we thought it might fill up quickly, but we’re surprised with the amount of grass it can actually hold,” exclaims Ciarán. “We’re actually cutting a lot of grass before we need to empty it, which is great because with nine or ten acres of meadow to cut we don’t want to be stopping a lot – we have been able to get through the meadows quick enough.”
The dealer experience has also been stellar. “We bought the mower from Barron Machinery and they’ve been fantastic,” Ciarán raves. “Barry is more than helpful - he did call outs to see our [New Holland Boomer] tractor beforehand and made sure everything was set up perfectly. After care has just been brilliant.”
Returning the estate to its original woodland setting will take time and collective efforts from the Johnstown Castle community. “As with everything in gardening you think years down the line, not months or weeks,” Ciarán points out. “In order to see our vision through to the end we need something that is going to last the test of time, and for that it had to be a Major.”
RANSOMES ANNOUNCES LARGE BRAND INVESTMENT
Sets out vision
Digital investment and electric lithium powered commercial mowing set to launch in 2022.
Ransomes has announced its largest brand investment this century.
The manufacturer says its digital investment comes through a new web presence, whilst on the turf, they say the target of electric lithium powered commercial mowing has been set for launch in 2022.
The manufacturer is launching a new branding campaign, Any Less Costs More
Ransomes marketing manager, Adam Underwood, said, "We want people to be confident when they are sat on a Ransomes mower that they are sitting on the benchmark for commercial and municipal mowing. It's very important for people to understand the value of incredibly specialist machinery, and we certainly are that. So, the Any Less Costs More campaign is really about the lifetime value of our products and how it pays to invest in us. It's worth investing in the 200 UK-based specialists on-site at our factory, it's worth investing in UK manufacturing, and it's worth investing in machinery that is compliant with clean and green power.
"You know exactly where your products are coming from, and you also know that you're going to get superior support from a dealer network that has sold our products in some cases for half a century or more.
"Getting that message out is important, but listening is even more important. We spent the last year engaging with consumers, dealer customers and colleagues to understand what Ransomes means to them and what great will look like for the next five and ten years for the brand."
Throughout early 2021 Textron focused all mower manufacturing on Ipswich. For Ransomes, this year provided the opportunity for 15 million test hours of lithium battery technology to be integrated into their commercial mower range.
"We're excited about developing new technologies, and Ransomes will borrow a lot of the expertise from other brands within Textron,” Adam explains.
“As a result, we will be able to safely put technology that will be good for the environment, good for everybody and most importantly, gets the work done into our Ransomes products.
"We're also celebrating the fact that all of our products are Stage V compliant. We feel those clean, green engines are worth shouting about and are important as we look forward to launching electric lithium technology and implementing it safely into the municipal and commercial market in 2022.
"You'll see at our shows, events and launches throughout 2022 that we are going to be expanding our range into electric lithium technology, and in other parts of the business, we have already got turf machinery out cutting in environments that are a commercial or municipal setting."
DEERE APPROVE NEW TYRES
For use on 6M and 6R tractors
The approval means all 90 to 300 horsepower John Deere tractors can be specified with the tyres with immediate effect.
John Deere has approved Continental TractorMaster and VF TractorMaster tyres for its 6M and 6R tractors.
The OEM approval means all 90 to 300 horsepower John Deere tractors can be specified with Continental tyres from November 1st, 2021.
The range includes tyre widths up to 800mm, rim diameters up to 46 inches and tyre diameters up to 2.05m. Continental has supplied John Deere with its Tractor70 and Tractor85 tyres since 2019. However, this is the first-time customers can specify all John Deere 6M and 6R series models with Continental TractorMaster tyres, approved ex works.
The tyres are manufactured at a purpose-built agricultural tyre production facility in Lousado, Portugal.
Continental agricultural tyre specialist, Richard Hutchins said, "With the TractorMaster, John Deere is expanding its tyre portfolio with a test winner which stands for efficiency and cost-effectiveness in agriculture. We are delighted that John Deere is expanding its Continental tyre range because it highlights our growth ambitions for the agricultural sector."
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