The roads to Millstreet were busy last Wednesday and Thursday night as the farm machinery lovers of Munster made their way through the heavy rain on what has become an annual pilgrimage.
The annual AJS Promotions’ Q8 Oil Spring Farm Machinery Show at the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet has become a marked date on many contractor and farmer diaries.
The weather had decided that it would maintain the unwelcome downpour pattern that has plagued the country over the winter months.
As I joined the traffic queues for the event car parks, the wipers couldn’t keep the windscreen clear.
What followed was a dash to the outside pay kiosk followed by the final dash to the indoor arena.
I had made it, to Millstreet’s answer to Agritechnica, Sima or LAMMA.
The first stand to greet the eyes upon entry is that of the Chinese-manufactured Manitech compact loaders, newly imported into Ireland.
The name requires a double take, as the colour scheme is similar to Manitou.
These articulated loaders start for as little as €16,500 plus VAT.
The Manitech MTL 10 is powered by a Perkins design engine. It is a four-cylinder direct injection engine, and puts out 50 hp.
It is EU certified by Manitech in Poland.
Like most compact machines, you can expect the cab to be tight.
However, it is well equipped.
Visablity is good and the loader includes a reversing camera with a in-cab screen. Layout in general is effective and operator friendly.
A joystick control is positioned next to the right armrest.
Ground clearance is good, with an option for larger than standard wheels if ground conditions would be testing and more traction is needed.
It is a machine ideal for dairy or beef units that have tight yards or feeding areas.
I turned left from the Manitech stand and am faced with the first of four zero-grazers I would see at the show.
This one is new to me.
Tom Shaw from Birr, Co Offaly, has become the main importer of the Belair Zero-Grazers.
The model on display is the 30 cubic metre capacity example.
Belair is a French company who have manufactured agricultural machinery for over 50 years.
They are based in the green pastures of France’s north western province, Brittany.
The Belair Gabare 2030 features a 2-drum rotary cutting mechanism.
This is claimed to damage the grass less than disc, so that feeding value is maintained in the fresh grass.
The cut is 2.1 metres wide.
The French company designed their own conveyor, with eight pick-up reels with nine tines each.
A nice touch to this machine is a hydraulic-controlled support stand, leaving coupling and uncoupling easy, but stored away during operation.
The adjustment control of the cutting mechanism is also hydraulically controlled.
There are two additional springs to help the mower float over ground surface.
Also on Tom Shaw’s stand at the show was the Polish-manufactured Staltech Disc Harrow.
From the Grassmen merchandising truck, the ever popular DVD series generated steady trade, as it does at all events.
Next to them is the Irish family-run business who pioneered the zero grazing concept in Ireland.
Niall O’Reilly of the Oldcastle, Co Meath based company, Zero Grazer, had the ZG75 on display.
This is a 36 cubic metre capacity model with a 2.1 metre drum cutting mechanism.
The machine is designed to suit a 100 to 120 cow operation.
Pig tail fence posts
Across from Niall’s stand were the aptly named Gentleman Agri Products.
Billy Gentleman runs his engineering operation from his brother Patrick’s farmyard.
This arrangement means that during the design and development stages of any new product, it can go through rigorous testing on the farm.
Billy has won awards for some of his innovations, including a very popular parlour restrictor bar which locks in part rows of cows with uneven numbers, safely from the parlour pit.
They introduced me to a new innovation — a durable pig tail fence post.
It retails for around three times the price of the standard temporary movable post, but has multiple advantages.
The main unique benefit is that the stake carries electric current half way down the pole.
It is at this point that the insulator is located, before the galvanised pole continues to a robust cross base.
This design stops cows and other livestock from scratching their heads on the pig tail post and knocking it down, especially in kale and rape feeding situations.
The strong design also can support curve strains on wire, if the fence is not in a straight line, far better than its common plastic-coated market equivalent.
The next stand I wander to is Clarke’s Machinery.
The Valtra main dealers were a distance away from their four dealerships in Cavan, Meath and Roscommon.
They carried information on their many agencies including Weidemann, McHale, Major, RedRock, Joskin and Kverneland.
Kverneland were celebrating the news they had just won the LAMMA 2016 Best New Product or Innovation Award for their revolutionary i-Plough.
I then pass by Orchard Motorsports, stocking a large range of impressive farm models, and make my way to the top of the first shed.
In front of me, quite a crowd of excited younger people were doing what younger people do best at machinery shows — hopping on and off quad bikes.
The stand was that of Kilgarvan-based Polaris agent Trakland.
Tommy Randles was showcasing a new type of crossover in the ATV market.
While Polaris have the 2-seater sit-in Ranger range, and the conventional quad Sportsman range, it is the new Ace range that is eye-catching.
Best described as a sit-in single seater quad, it is marketed as the safest quad in the world, and to look at it, it would be hard to argue otherwise.
A sturdy cab frame protects the driver in a low seated position.
A low centre of gravity and long 61.5” wheelbase gives a stable and confident ride.
The basic model is powered by a 32hp 4-stroke single cylinder engine.
It has hydraulic disc brakes all-round.
It appeals to the inner kid and the practical mind alike.
I was only completing the first shed and I already had a long ‘I want’ list.
I wandered on to the main shed, knowing that a larger spectacle awaited.
It was clear that the Q8 Oil Spring Farm Machinery Show has delivered once again for its machinery-loving fans.