The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has published a revised and updated Contracting Charges Guide 2022 in order to reflect the “huge increases” in agri-diesel costs and other inputs.

The FCI said last evening (Wednesday, June 15) that it is satisfied that the revised guide provides “fair and reasonable guidance” for its farm and forestry contractor members and their clients.

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

The FCI noted that this week’s agri-diesel quotes are the highest so far this year and the highest agri-diesel prices on record, averaging at €1.50/L including VAT. The 25c/L increase since the end of April is a 20% increase in overall fuel costs since the start of the silage season and a 100% increase since January this year.

The daily cost of filling a 300L diesel tank for a tractor has increased from €225 in January to €450 at the start of June. The agri-diesel cost/day to fill a self-propelled silage harvester with a 1,200L tank has risen from €900 to €1,800 in the same period.

The organisation said that the benefits of lowering excise duty on agri-diesel have been “insignificant” for the sector and were “obliterated within days” by the Carbon Tax increase at the start of May.

The costs of agri-diesel inflation have doubled the annual fuel costs for the contractor sector from €260 million to €525 million, the FCI said.

The association also reiterated a call on Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to allow contractors to avail of an allowance whereby the Carbon Tax component of agri-diesel can be provided as a tax credit, as is the case for farmers.

The FCI is also calling for ministerial intervention for an investigation by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) into the agri-diesel supply sector.

FCI CEO Michael Moroney said that the situation is forcing many contractors to “reconsider their futures”. He added:

“The agri-food sector and Irish farming will pay a high price to replace the skills, financial investments and passion of many rural and family-based contracting businesses, generations of whom have shown an appetite for ambitious investment in new technology, coupled with a dedication to hard work.”

These revised FCI contracting charges now also include VAT on all charges quoted as most Irish farmers are not registered for VAT.

Because of local differences, the actual guide charges may vary between region; soil type; distance travelled; size of contract; size and type of equipment used; as well as the scale of the work done, the association says.

The average 5% increases in charges in the original 2022 guide published earlier this year are “no longer adequate”, the organisation argues.

Moroney said: “The FCI continues to advise all contractors to examine current costs of operation, in particular by monitoring fuel consumption levels, to establish their individual charges for 2022.”

The FCI CEO noted that the most recent silage cost analysis shows that a modern self-propelled silage fleet will require a minimum rate of €170/ac including VAT to cover depreciation, labour, operating costs, and the further Carbon Tax increase introduced in May. Baling charges can now be as high as €20/bale, depending on crop and farm conditions.

Key figures

The key figures from the revised FCI Contracting Charges Guide 2022 are below:

  • Baling and bale handling:
    • Baling – €13-€25/bale depending on inclusion of wrapping, plastic and moving;
    • Baling silage (4×4) – €9/bale;
    • Wrap (4×4) – €4-€4.50/bale excluding plastic;
    • Bale transport – €85/hour or €6/bale;
    • Bale stacking – €85-€90/hour;
    • Large square bales of silage (6x4x3) – €11-€12/bale;
    • Large silage bales (5x3x2) wrapped – €18-€19/bale;
    • Hay baling – up to €8/bale;
    • Hay mowing/cutting/rowing – up to €30/ac;
    • Straw – up to €16/bale depending on size.
  • Silage harvesting:
    • Mowing (conditioner) – €28-€30/ac;
    • Raking/tedding/rowing – €16-€17/ac;
    • Precision chop grass silage (complete job, in pit) – €170/ac;
    • Maize silage (complete job, in pit) – €210/ac;
    • Wagon silage (complete job, in pit) – €150/ac;
    • Whole crop silage (complete job, in pit) – €170/ac;
    • Zero grazing – €90-€95/load;
    • Willow harvesting (complete job) – €250/ac;
    • Topping grassland – €25/ac or €70/hour.
  • Cultivation:
    • Min-till (per pass) – €40-€42/ac;
    • Levelling harrow – €22-€24/ac;
    • Disc harrowing – €40/ac/run or €135/hour;
    • Ploughing – €52-€60/ac (depending on lea or stubble);
    • Power harrowing – €60/ac/run or €165/hour;
    • Rolling – €16/ac or €65/hour.
  • Drilling and sowing:
    • Conventional grain/fertiliser – €55-€60/ac;
    • Conventional seed – €45-€50/ac;
    • Direct drill – €60-€65/ac;
    • Maize seeding – €100-€105/ac (excluding cost of plastic);
    • One pass (seed only) – €55-€60/ac;
    • One pass (combine drill) – €60-€65/ac;
    • Min-till/strip-till drill – €65-€70/ac;
    • One pass grass reseeding – €65-€70/ac;
    • Grass seeding – €270-€280/ac;
    • Plough, till and sow maize – €250-€275/ac.
  • Complete cultivation work:
    • Plough and one pass – €90-€95/ac;
    • Plough, till and sow grain – €115-€120/ac.
  • Slurry:
    • Agitation – €110-€130/hour;
    • Spreading – €65-€110/hour (depending on tanker size);
    • Umbilical spreading – €175-€185/hour;
    • Trailing shoe (2,500gal tanker) €95-€100/hour.
  • Combining and beet:
    • Cereals and oil seed rape – €72-€75/ac;
    • Cereals, oil seed rape and chopping – €75-€85/ac;
    • Grain haulage (up to 15km) – €14/t;
    • Beet harvesting – €170-€175/ac.
  • Fertiliser:
    • Broadcasting/bulk spreading – €50/t or €105/hour;
    • Lime spreading – €9-€11/t.
  • Spraying:
    • Low volume (83L/ac) – €22-€25/ac.
  • Hedgecutting:
    • Flail – €65-€70/hour;
    • Sawhead – €85-€90/hour;
    • Excavator/digger – €90-€100/hour;
    • Mulching hedges – €90-€100/hour.
  • Forestry:
    • Forwarded (small) – €100-€115/hour;
    • Forwarded (large) – €130-€140/hour;
    • Timber harvester (small) – €140-€150/hour;
    • Timber harvester (large) – €150-€170/hour.