As ground conditions improve and silage season begins, contractors all over the country are working long days to catch up on lost time.

Contractor, Stephen Mohan from Mohan Agri Limited in Co. Meath said that he is finding it hard to get enough workers and machinery at this time of the year.

“What should have been done a few weeks ago is having to be done along with silage now.

“We’re down three or four guys sowing maize that should be here at silage, so that’s all extra costs because of the weather, a knock-on effect,” Mohan said.

He added that there is also a lack of interest for farmers getting involved in contracting.

Silage season

A regular work day for contractors currently starts at about 7:00a.m, continuing until midnight, according to Mohan.

“The dairy men won’t be able to do the work themselves, they need the contractors.

“The dairy man is probably not getting enough for his produce for us to keep going up and up with rates either, so it’s kind of catch-22 for everyone at the minute,” Mohan said.

Mohan said that the hike on fuel prices is also putting pressure on contractors, with heavier loads to draw, and harder work with ploughing and tilling.

Part-time farmer and contractor, Des Crinion told Agriland that there has been continuous rain and wet spots causing tracks in fields this year.

Crinion said that with weather conditions for the last number of months, this is one of the “worst” years he has ever seen.

He said that a lot of farmers are currently out cleaning up grass to be able to spread fertiliser and “get a good second cut”.

Most soils currently have good trafficability, although there are areas in the midlands and south that remain saturated or close to it, according to Met Éireann.

Stress on farm

Crinion said that in Co. Meath, field conditions will be “okay” if the weather remains settled for the rest of the year.

He said that if rain returns or if weather becomes too dry then the situation for fodder may worsen, as there are no stocks left on farms.

Farmers are dealing with the “stress” of lower milk yields and other financial issues, according to Crinion.

Crinion said that farmers can sometimes not see the “professionalism” of a contractor, and the amount of finance that goes into maintenance and staffing.

He added that if cashflow does not improve then it may turn younger farmers away from the job.