The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) published its annual contracting charges guide for 2021 on Tuesday 9 February.

These charges for the year ahead show an average price increase of 4% across all operations.

This is in addition to last year’s 5% average price increase.

However, FCI has said that these figures are only a guide to provide both fair and reasonable guidance to contractors and their client farmers.

Collation of averages

According to the association, these charges are compiled by collating an average figure for each operation from a panel of its own contractor members across Ireland.

FCI noted that local differences - soil types, distances travelled, contract size and other factors such as application rates - may cause guide charges to vary between regions.

COVID-19 is said to have played a part in these cost increases

In a statement, the FCI said that this year’s average price increase of 4% is to meet some of the increasing costs of machinery, insurance and labour experienced by its members since the beginning of 2020.

COVID-19 is said to have played a part in these cost increases, creating a worldwide shortage of raw materials and components, which in turn have driven up machinery purchasing and ownership costs.

Baled silage is guided at €17 to €18/bale excluding VAT, mowed baled and wrapped with plastic supplied.

The association also stated that insurance costs for contractors equate to between 6% and 7% of their annual turnover.

Results of a recent FCI tractor cost analysis has shown that a 120hp modern tractor will require a minimum rate of €55/hour to cover its operating cost and the cost of labour, irrespective of the work done.

FCI chief executive officer Michael Moroney said: “Contractors need to look very closely at costs in order to establish rates for their services that will allow for profit and take into account the huge depreciation costs associated with owning modern farm equipment.”

Example rates

Putting these 2021 contracting charges as guided by the FCI into context sees the price to mow, bale and wrap excluding plastic set at between €14 and €15/bale.

The same service with plastic supplied (four layers) will cost €17 to €18/bale.

Meanwhile, precision chop grass silage completed and in the pit will cost €135/acre.

Slurry spreading with a 2,500gal tanker will cost between €66 and €70/hour or €88 and €93/hour if a LESS (trailing shoe) system is required.

Umbilical spreading is €155 to €160 (€100/hour set-up charge).

The hire of a 14t excavator is priced at €75/hour according to the 2021 FCI guide. All prices quoted are excluding 13.5% VAT.