‘Tillage farmers want to invest in machinery but need support’

Cross Agricultural Engineering, based in Rathangan, Co. Kildare, was one of numerous Irish companies exhibiting its products at last week’s LAMMA show.

The firm manufactures a wide range of equipment, from slurry tankers to chaser bins.

Agriland spoke to Jason Cross at the show, to get a manufacturer’s perspective on the challenges facing the machinery industry in 2017.

According to Cross, Brexit and the ensuing currency fluctuations have taken their toll – and continue to do so. These are hard to predict and are outside our control.

But factors closer to home, such as the prospect of greater support for tillage farmers, are within Ireland’s remit.

Cross also said that the company has been busy of late, manufacturing slurry tankers, agitators and muck spreaders for stock farmers and contractors.

“The typical slurry tanker we build is now a 2000-gallon model; muck spreader capacities are anywhere from 6t to 14t.

Cross Agricultural Engineering slurry tanker
Cross Agricultural Engineering has been busy making tankers, agitators and muck spreaders recently.

“Grain roller mills have sold well. Sales of these machines are high when grain prices are low – and vice versa.

“That’s because more and more farmers opt to keep and roll their own grain when prices are depressed. Needless to say, when grain prices are high, machines like ring rollers and furrow presses sell well.

“The biggest trend we’ve noticed in recent years, though we haven’t seen it in Ireland yet, is the expansion of the biogas industry. It has opened up new markets for us, specifically for our beet washers and cleaner loaders.”

Maize is typically used as a feed-stock for biogas plants. However, many operators mix in sugar beet, because it speeds up the whole process. A typical mix would be 80% maize and 20% sugar beet.

Also on the beet theme, the company recently launched a new version of the aptly named Cross Beet Chopper.

This machine uses a patented chopper, to cater for beet of various sample sizes. The machine is also fitted with a hydraulic safety door, to deal with foreign objects such as stones.

Cross Agricultural Engineering Beet Chopper
This beet chopper, from Cross Agricultural Engineering, can process 150t/hour.

The 10′-wide hopper has been sized to cater for most buckets. Many conventional tractor buckets are only 8′ wide. Hopper extensions can be fitted to suit very large buckets.

“This machine has a big appetite. It may be too big for a single farm. However, when it’s equipped with wheels, the mobile version is suitable for a contractor who is chopping beet for a number of local farmers.”

The Cross Beet Chopper, which promises an output of up to 150t/hour, costs €25,000 excluding VAT.

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