The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has published its Contracting Charges Guide for 2022.

The association said last night (Tuesday, January 18) that it was satisfied that the average price guide “continues to provide fair and reasonable guidance for both farm and forestry contractors and their client farmers”.

However, the FCI also stressed that it is “only a guide”.

These figures are produced on an annual basis and are compiled by collating an average figure for each operation from a panel of FCI contractor members from across Ireland.

Because of local differences the actual guide charge may vary between regions; soil types; distance travelled; size of contract undertaken; size and type of equipment; and scale of the work done.

This year sees FCI guiding an average minimum 5% increase in charges, rounded off to meet some of the significant increases in costs of machinery, tyres, fuel, lubrication oils, insurance and labour costs.

The increasing costs of new machinery for farm and forestry contractors and their client farmers are impacting on the sustainability of many agricultural contracting businesses, the FCI said.

Michael Moroney, the FCI’s chief executive officer, explained: “To ensure sustainability of the business, charges must be based on a realistic examination of the true cost of the operating tractors and a full host of machinery, as well as the costs of running a modern progressive rural enterprise.

“An FCI silage cost analysis has shown that a modern contractor silage fleet will require a minimum rate of €14/ac just to cover the depreciation, labour and operating costs which will also include a further Carbon Tax increase in May 2022.”

Fuel prices have risen by close to 50% in 2021 compared with 2020, adding thousands of euros to the costs of contractor operations, with no additional output result, the organisation noted.

The hike in the cost of AdBlue, the emissions-lowering additive, is another extra cost factor for 2022, as contractor-owned tractors are significant consumers of the product.

FCI estimates that the increased AdBlue costs alone will add more than €5 million in costs for Irish farm and forestry contractors in 2022.

Skilled operator availability, and at what cost, remains another unknown, according to the FCI, with a “noticeable scarcity” of young people joining the sector.

The cost of insurance is also set to increase for contractors.

As well as that, the FCI pointed out that some contractors have outstanding debt from 2021, despite a profitable farming year.

The association is asking its members to now establish individual baseline costings.

Some of the key costs outlined in the new charge guide are as follows (all inclusive of VAT):

  • Baling and bale handling:
    • Baling – €12-€19/bale depending on inclusion of wrapping, plastic and moving;
    • Baling silage (4×4) – €6/bale;
    • Wrap (4×4) – €3.50-€4/bale excluding plastic;
    • Bale transport/handling – €68-€70/hour;
    • Large square bales of silage (6x4x3) – €9.50-€10/bale;
    • Large 5x3x2 silage bales wrapped – €14-€15/bale;
    • Hay baling – up to €6/bale;
    • Hay mowing/cutting/rowing – up to €26/ac;
    • Straw – up to €12/bale depending on size.
  • Silage harvesting:
    • Mowing – conditioner – €24-€26/ac;
    • Raking/Tedding/Rowing – €12-€12.50/ac;
    • Precision chop grass silage – complete job (in pit) – €140/ac;
    • Maize silage (complete job in pit) – €180/ac;
    • Wagon silage (complete job into the pit) – €130/ac;
    • Whole crop silage (complete job into the pit) – €145/ac;
    • Zero grazing – €70-€73/load;
    • Willow harvesting (complete job) – €215/ac;
    • Topping grassland – €20-€25/ac or €55/hour.
  • Cultivation:
    • Min-till (per pass) – €35-€36/ac;
    • Levelling harrow – €18-€19/ac;
    • Disc harrowing – €30/ac/run or €110/hour;
    • Ploughing – €43-€52/ac (depending on lea or stubble);
    • Power harrowing/run (3m) – €52/ac/run or €147/hour;
    • Rolling – €13/ac or €48/hour.
  • Drilling and sowing:
    • Conventional grain/fertiliser – €46-€48/ac;
    • Conventional seed – €36-€38/ac;
    • Direct drill – €54-€58/ac;
    • Maize seeding – €85-€90/ac (excluding cost of plastic);
    • One pass (seed only) – €48-€50/ac;
    • One pass (combine drill) – €54-€58/ac;
    • Min-till/Strip-till drill – €54-€58/ac;
    • One pass grass reseeding – €54-€55/ac;
    • Grass seeding – €230-€240/ac;
    • Plough, till and sow maize – €200-€210/ac.
  • Complete cultivation work:
    • Plough and one pass – €74-€79/ac;
    • Plough, till and sow grain – €95-€100/ac.
  • Slurry:
    • Agitation – €97-€102/hour;
    • Spreading – €52-€98/hour (depending on tanker size);
    • Umbilical spreading – €160-€170/hour;
    • Trailing shoe (2,500gal tank or more) €90-€95/hour.
  • Combining and beet:
    • Cereals and oil seed rape – €58-€62/ac;
    • Cereals and oil seed rape and chopping – €63-€67/ac;
    • Grain haulage (up to 15km) – €7/t;
    • Beet harvesting – €145-€150/ac.
  • Fertiliser:
    • Broadcasting/bulk spreading – €42/t or €95/hour;
    • Lime spreading – €6-€7/t.
  • Spraying:
    • 83L/ac – €18-€19/ac.
  • Hedgecutting:
    • Flail – €58-€62/hour;
    • Sawhead – €68-€72/hour;
    • Excavator/digger – €75-€85/hour;
    • Mulching hedges – €75-€85/hour.
  • Forestry:
    • Forwarded (small) – €85-€105/hour;
    • Forwarded (large) – €115-€126/hour;
    • Timber harvester (small) – €125-€135/hour;
    • Timber harvester (large) – €135 – €155/hour.