How much should contractors charge for zero-grazing?

Over recent weeks, we’ve brought you news that the FCI (The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland) is currently compiling an ‘agricultural contracting charges (prices) guide’.

Also Read: How do these agri contracting ‘prices’ shape up?

It is believed that the association is intending to publish the list of prices as a “guide” and not a recommended price listing.

Figures are currently under discussion for a range of contractor services. As well as tillage operations, services up for debate include: silage harvesting; baling and bale handling; fertiliser application; hedge-cutting; slurry and muck spreading; as well as plant and tractor hire.

‘Guide price’

Here, we focus on the ‘guide price’ for zero-grazing – whereby a contractor’s tractor, driver and zero-grazing machine are used to gather grass from the field and haul it back to the yard.

The proposed ‘guide’ rate is €60/load (plus VAT); based on a ‘typical’ zero-grazing machine. Obviously, the figure will vary depending on individual machine capacity and the length of the draw (haul).

The FCI has presumably opted for a per-load figure (rather than a per-acre rate) because the volume of grass encountered on a per-acre basis can vary significantly – from farm-to-farm and from season-to-season. Is a per-load figure the best compromise?

Of course, the very concept of zero-grazing is a hot topic of debate in some farming circles. Some believe that it complicates – to an unnecessary extent – the very notion of a grass-based approach to farming; others believe that it is a well-justified system, through which you can make better use of the available grass (especially when ground conditions are marginal).

Factors at play

The aforementioned ‘price’ is believed to be an average, guide-line price – surveyed from FCI members. It may also change before the ‘guide’ is finally agreed by the membership.

Of course, prices can vary considerably – depending on any number of additional factors. Such factors might include the size of the job undertaken (number of acres, etc) or the distance travelled by the contractor to get to the job.

The ‘price’ is apparently based on a (green) diesel price of 70c/L.