Gold success in Punchestown for McHale brothers
Peter Thomas Keaveney sat down with brothers Padraic and Martin McHale, who picked up the prestigious FTMTA gold award at the show last week.

From time to time the FTMTA executive council presents a gold award to a person who has given a long or outstanding service to the association or the agricultural machinery industry.

This award is open to all working FTMTA member firms and its staff.

The Irish Farmers Journal sat down with recent recipients the McHale brothers to discuss their road to success.

Humble beginnings

McHale was founded by Padraic and Martin McHale in the mid 1980s.

Before Padraic started manufacturing, he sold used tractors and machinery from 1976.

He was later joined in this business by his younger brother Martin. Coming from a farming background and a family of 15, the brothers knew the value of hard work.

The manufacturing company evolved from a farm machinery retail outlet that is still in existence today.

During the summer of 1982 the McHale brothers built a Silage Block Cutter and the following winter tested it on the home farm while refining it.

The brothers explained how this background was an excellent foundation for the design and manufacture of farm machinery, simply due to its direct contact with the end user.

The brothers decided to get into manufacturing when they saw a gap in the market for machinery to cut pit silage in the west of Ireland.

The following year the brothers started to manufacture and sell their blockcutters locally

At the time, imported machines found it hard to deal with the long grass in the area. As a result the brothers opted to design a machine they felt would do a better job.

During the summer of 1982 they built a silage block cutter and the following winter tested it on the home farm while refining it.

The first product was a Silomac blockcutter. A range of slurry pumping equipment followed this.

The following year the brothers started to manufacture and sell their blockcutters locally.

Later, Martin began to establish a dealer network around Ireland and after this appointed dealers in Scotland and the UK.

Martin McHale with one of the early bale wrappers.

One of the first more unusual markets was Iceland.

In the early days Padraic looked after product design and manufacturing while Martin looked after sales and marketing.

Although the business has grown substantially since, both brothers are still actively involved in the business and still manage these areas.

In 1987, McHale manufactured its first round bale wrapper and a few years later in 1989 made a conscious decision to specialise in this area and grow the company through market development.

In 1987, McHale manufactured its first round bale wrapper.

Martin then travelled to the UK and began to develop a dealer network.

Today this network consists of 70 dealers, many of whom have been working with McHale for over 30 years.

Establishment of the McHale brand

Martin explained that, “in 1989 or 1990 before the first Smithfield show we had some concern about how Silomac would translate as it moved into export markets.

As a result, we decided to rebrand the range under the McHale name.”

Outside the UK, one of the first exports markets actively targeted was Australia in 1994.

Martin said: “Australia was a good move for us. The grass season in Australia started in August or September each year when the European season was coming to a close. As a result, we could keep the factory busy all year round. In addition, for a company of our size at the time all our promotional material could be used as the language was the same. Today we still follow the grass season around the world and when the season finishes in the northern hemisphere we do good business in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, China, South Africa and Chile.”

In 1995, Martin took the McHale name to Europe when he participated at the Agritechnica Show in Hanover in Germany

In the mid 1990s McHale started working on a range of square bale wrappers for field and static wrapping, unveiling the 995 linkage and trailed square bale wrappers and later the high-output 998.

In 1995, Martin took the McHale name to Europe when he participated at the Agritechnica Show in Hanover in Germany and sought distributors across Europe.

McHale achieved ISO certification for its quality standards in 1997 and also received numerous company awards for export and performance including the AIB export award and the Wang export company award.

New factory

By 1999, the company was shipping to 25 countries. To keep up with demand, McHale relocated from its home in Kilmaine and moved seven miles over the road to a 20ac greenfield site in Ballinrobe, building a 100,000 square foot manufacturing plant.

A new research and development department was later constructed.

Aerial view of the McHale Manufacturing Facility in Ballinrobe.

This is still run by Padraic and a number of key engineers who have been with the company since the R&D function was formally established in 1994.

Today, over 10% of the Mayo workforce are involved in new product development.

Over the years the plant has expanded and is now 320,000 square feet (8ac of roofed area).

Birth of the Fusion

By the turn of the century, many contractors had started to tow wrappers after their balers so that both jobs could be done with one tractor and one man.

The McHale brothers saw a niche in the market.

At this stage, the brothers had 20 years’ experience with manufacturing bale wrappers and selling balers in the harsh west of Ireland conditions, often described by other European manufacturers as the most challenging in Europe due to the difficult ground conditions and the heavy rainfall.

The McHale brothers harnessed their knowledge across their dealer network as most dealers also sold some brand of baler.

The brothers explained that when they put all the information together it became clear that the market wanted a more reliable heavy-duty baler with stronger shafts, rollers, bearings and heavier chains.

Padraic said: “Down through the years we have always got great support and feedback from both our Irish dealers and customers in relation to product development and testing. This provided us with a solid foundation for the development of products which could compete on a world stage.”

Unlike a lot of other players in the market, McHale did not have a baler to start with so it was not blinded by any traditional concept.

As a result, the team developed an integrated baler wrapper, which split like a clamshell where the lower section of the bale chamber transferred the bale.

This machine was unique in that it had a vertical wrapping ring instead of the more traditional twin-rotating dispenser formation.

When combined, the patented bale transfer and vertical wrapper ring resulted in a machine that could deliver up to 15% more output from a more compact machine.

This was highlighted when the McHale design team received the prestigious Royal Agricultural Society of England’s (RASE) Gold Medal at the 2005 Royal Show.

Padraic and Martina McHale with key members of the McHale R&D Team, James Heaney, Donal Collins, Patsy O’Connor and Gerry Sheridan accept the RASE Gold medal at the Royal Show.

The RASE machinery awards are unique in that they are based on a rigorous examination of machine performance by agri-contractors and farmers. These judges chose the McHale Fusion Integrated Baler Wrapper for its economy of operation, compact dimensions, its ability to work well on sloping land, high output and the company reputation.

Padraic said: “When the integrated baler wrapper was developed we described the concept to our dealer network and asked them to come up with a name and offered a trip to Ireland as a prize. Our importer in Greece came up with the Fusion name. Over time we have developed a strong brand around this name”.

Fixed chamber baler

In 2005, the company launched a standard fixed chamber baler.

The brothers explained that this machine was designed as a direct result of customer demand. They noted that the baler used 85% of the components used in the Fusion.

In 2009, the company launched the V660 variable chamber or belt baler which was targeted at drier climates

Due to its success, in 2007 a non-chopper baler, the F540, and a fully automatic baler, the F560, were also added to the range.

Over the years, the models have been superseded by the latest models in the fixed chamber baler range, namely the F5400, F5500, F5600 and F5600 Plus.

In 2009, the company launched the V660 variable chamber or belt baler which was targeted at drier climates around the world where there was demand for larger bales.

Today, McHale offers a total of nine balers in it range. This comprises three balers in the Fusion integrated range, four balers in the F5000 fixed chamber range and two balers in the V6 variable chamber range.

Fusion 3 Plus launched in 2013 – Innovative film binding results in better silage quality and easier to feed out bales.

In 2015 McHale widened its grass line range to include its Pro Glide range of front, rear and combination mowers.

The brothers explained that all mowers in the range have a number of key patents.

Pro Glide front and rear mower working on the factory test plot in Ballinrobe in 2015.

At the 2017 Irish Ploughing Championships McHale unveiled two models in its centre delivery rake range – the R62-72 & R68-78.

The McHale story is one of two brothers taking a voyage from humble beginnings and building a team helping to achieve worldwide commercial success.

Today, the company is one of the largest employers in the region, with exports accounting for 90% of sales.

Their products can be seen working in 55 countries around the world.

McHale sales team for the Agritechnica Show in Hanover 2017.

The brothers noted that their success can be attributed to the company’s philosophy of specialisation, intensive testing/product development with end users and a commitment to investing in research and development and the latest production technologies

Padraic emphasised that McHale is a team: “Many of the people have been with myself and Martin for between 15 and 30 years. As the business has grown these people have taken on new challenges, developed new ideas and grown the business. This team has been fundamental to our success and I would like to thank them for their continued hard work, support and commitment.”

“We are constantly looking for people to grow the team and have a number of exciting vacancies on our website which we need to fill over the coming months.”

McHale will be at the Agri Careers Expo in the RDS on 14 February.

36m Horsch sprayer spreads its wings in Carlow
Peter Thomas Keaveney took a trip to Co Carlow to catch up with tillage farmer Kevin Nolan who recently purchased a new Horsch Leeb trailed sprayer.

Farming 1,400 acres in north Co Carlow, Kevin Nolan started off spraying at the tender age of 14 using a Hardi trailed sprayer with a 14m boom. After first switching to a Horsch Leeb trailed sprayer back in 2011 because of its boom stability. Kevin opted to stick with the brand and upgrade his sprayer to a Leeb 8 GS.

He noted that his decision to stick with Horsch was based on the low running costs of his previous sprayer. Kevin went from running a trailed sprayer with a 6,000 litre tank and 30m booms to an 8,000 litre tank with a 36m boom.

Kevin Nolans Horsch Leeb 8 GS 36m trailed sprayer. \ Adrian Leech Photography

Since taking the delivery of his new sprayer in December, Kevin has covered just under 800 acres with the machine.

BoomControl Pro Plus

The sprayer is kitted out with 36m triple-fold booms. Horsch’s BoomControl Pro Plus uses sensors positioned along the boom to allow each section to move up or down independently.

Horsch’s BoomControl Pro Plus uses sensors positioned along the boom enable it to independently move each section up or down.

This is in an attempt to maintain the desired boom height across the machine’s width.

The active boom control system allows the user to spray at a low target height. This helps to reduce drift. The boom can be equipped with four different nozzles at any one time, allowing for 12 different nozzle configurations.

The boom can be equipped with four different nozzles at any one time, allowing for twelve different nozzle configurations.

These nozzles can be either physically altered or altered from the cab.

Both the right and left booms are fitted with one LED light for night spraying. The brightness of this light can be adjusted from the display monitor. When working, the sprayer and the lights are on. At the end of each run fresh water is sprayed at the lights ensure they are kept clean.

When the booms are extended, a curtain sits down behind the wheels, meaning that if the ground is a little sticky, no muck will be splashed onto any of the nozzles.

Another nice feature is the deadlock lever. This locks the flow of oil to the booms and the steering axle, allowing for peace of mind while in transport.

The sprayer is equipped with a steering axle, which allows it to follow the tracks of the tractor via a gyroscope that’s mounted on the axle.

The tank is stainless steel rather than plastic. As a result, there is little fear of any residue sticking in the tank. As standard, an airline is fitted to the rear of the sprayer. If any nozzles get blocked they can be easily cleared.

Terminal

Kevin opted for the Horsch 1200 (12.1 inch) touchscreen display monitor over the option of running the sprayer through the Fendt’s Isobus terminal. This terminal is quite large and can be used in either portrait or landscape mode.

Kevin opted for the Horsch 1200 (12.1 inch) touchscreen display monitor over the option of running the sprayer through the Fendt’s IsoBus terminal.

Kevin explained that he opted for the terminal because there’s so much going on with the sprayer he likes to have the two screens.

Internal cab controls also feature a multifunction joystick. This joystick controls all important boom functions, including section control.

Internal cab controls also feature a multifunction joystick that controls all important boom functions including section control.

Kevin retrofitted a reversing camera at the rear of the machine to provide him with more visibility. The exterior panels are manufactured using plastic. All opening panels use gas struts and are kept shut using magnets.

However, Kevin noted that in his opinion this was one downfall, as he was afraid they could pop open some day while in transport on the road.

Induction hopper

The sprayer is equipped with 3in fittings, a stainless steel induction hopper, a 3in rotary pump with an output of 1,000 l/min as a spraying pump and an additional piston diaphragm pump as a suction aid for the continuous inside cleaning.

The area around the induction hopper has been redesigned and provides for a simple working environment.

The area around the induction hopper has been redesigned and provides for a simple working environment. The display monitor has three pages, each of which are easy to read and alter. Kevin said: “The area around the induction hopper provides for a really nice working environment. It has a tap with freshwater for washing your hands and an overhead LED light that lights up the area in the dark”.

When working the sprayer and the lights are on, at the end of each run fresh water is sprayed at the lights ensure they are constantly kept clean.

Cleaning

Kevin’s sprayer is kitted out with Horsch’s fully automated Continuous Cleaning System Pro (CCS Pro). This system uses displacement to clean out the machine. Initially the CCS Pro system blows out the sprayer internally using compressed air, pushing out any unwanted residual in the spray lines. Following this, a separate cleaning pump will feed fresh water into the main tank and wash it out. The main pump then kicks into action, circulating the washings around the rest of the system before pushing it out of the nozzle. Kevin said: “The cleaning system is the stuff of the future. It thoroughly cleans the sprayer using a little amount of water. I can go from spraying Roundup to spraying oilseed rape in 10 or a maximum of 15 minutes.”

Axle

The sprayer is equipped with a steering axle, which allows it to follow the tracks of the tractor via a gyroscope that’s mounted on the axle. The axle is also air-suspended with level regulation. The sprayer came on 620 tyres, however, Kevin plans to fit either 710s or 800s to the sprayer next autumn. Kevin explained: “When I was ordering the sprayer I would have liked to have put it on 650 tyres, but the option wasn’t there so he had to settle for 620s”.

The rims come as standard in a grey colour, however, Kevin opted to powder-coat the rims black to fit in with the colour scheme of his Fendt 828 tractor. The machine is 2.8m wide with the mudguards being the widest point. This means that booms are neatly tucked away.

Easy attaching

Kevin noted that the sprayer is very easy to attach or detach from the tractor. The sprayer has a hydraulically powered stand, which cuts out any winding up or down associated with typical stands.

The sprayer has a hydraulically powered stand, which cuts out any winding up or down associated with typical stands.

The stand folds up neatly, tucking itself away into the drawbar. After the stand only hydraulic hoses, an air brake line and the terminal cabling need coupling or decoupling.

Why go larger?

Kevin explained that he opted to move from a 30m boom to a 36m boom for two reasons. Firstly, the wider boom means that Kevin can run a wider tyre without losing grain and, secondly, the increased tank capacity means that overall time spent spraying will be reduced.

We posed the question to Kevin why didn’t he opt for a self-propelled machine. He explained that he had a third tractor in the yard and liked the idea of running three tractors over two. However, he wouldn’t rule it out.

This year Kevin expects to cover around 7,000 plus acres with the new sprayer. This includes applying somewhere between 100,000 to 140,000 litres of liquid nitrogen and a small bit of contract spraying.

Likes

  • Large split screen terminal showing full workings of sprayer.
  • Boom Pro Plus maintaining same boom height across the entire boom.
  • The sprayer is physically narrower than its predecessor.
  • Dislikes

  • Exterior plastic panels held shut using magnets.
  • No option of ordering with a 650 tyre.
    Polaris reveals new Ranger with ABS braking
    American recreational vehicle manufacturer Polaris recently launched its new Ranger XP 1000 EPS UTV with ABS braking.

    Polaris claims to have raised the bar with the addition of ABS brakes on its Ranger XP 1000 EPS.

    According to Rodrigo Lourenco, vice president of Polaris, this is the brand’s most refined and versatile product on the market, making it the ultimate utility workhorse.

    The new ABS brakes give Ranger the ability to steer while braking, minimising the risk of skidding.

    The addition of ABS also allows more controlled braking on all surface types, achieving shorter stopping distances.

    The Ranger XP 1000 produces 82hp from its ProStar 1000 twincylinder engine. With 61lbf-ft of torque, the Ranger boasts impressive towing capabilities of over 1,100kg.

    Over 33cm of ground clearance and full body skid plates offer 45% greater protection to the UTV.

    The new Ranger also sees more precise steering, larger front bumper and offers a tighter turning radius than before.

    The XP 1000 EPS ABS also features the refinements found on the other Ranger models.

    These optional extras include a four-inch LCD entertainment system with GPS, an overhead sound system and front and rear-view cameras.

    Top five tips for buying a used ATV
    Peter Thomas Keaveney talks to Noel Lambert from Lambert ATV sales in Roscommon who offers his expertise on what potential buyers should look out for when buying a used quad.

    Noel Lambert from Lambert ATV sales in Roscommon says it is very important that potential buyers should consider buying a recognised brand, with a proven track record.

    He noted that there are a lot of unproved brands of quads on the market. Such brands may have poor reliability and parts may not be readily available.

    1 General appearance

    The general condition of the machine will tell you a lot about how it has been looked after. The quad should start easily from cold and idle smoothly. A starter motor could cost from €200 to €350 including VAT. The tyres should be inspected. Depending on the brand and size, new tyres for a farm quad will vary from €75 to €110 each including VAT. The frame should be checked for cracks, welds or corrosion.

    2 Engine

    As previously mentioned, it is important that the engine should idle and run smoothly. The oil level should be inspected using the dipstick which is generally to the side of the engine.

    It’s important to note that there isn’t too much oil in the quad as this may indicate that there is fuel leaking into the oil.

    It is important to note if there is too much oil in the quad as this may indicate that there is fuel leaking into the oil. Too little oil can indicate engine wear. The air filter should be inspected. A blocked air filter may indicate the quad wasn’t regularly cared for.

    3 Steering, brakes and suspension

    It is important to check for play in the steering. The handlebars should not move without a response from the wheels. A little play is acceptable but anything beyond 5mm is deemed to be dangerous. This kind of play would suggest worn ball joints or worn track rod ends.

    Play in the steering would suggest worn ball joints or worn track rod ends, which is extremely dangerous.

    The wheel bearings should also be checked. This is done by rocking the wheels. When driving the quad, listen for any clicking or cracking sounds. This may indicate worn or damaged CV joints.

    The front and rear brakes should be assessed to ensure they are functioning and are not seized. The brake cables should be working freely.

    When weight is placed and released on the suspension system, it should return to its original position nice and slowly. If it springs up like a basketball, it may indicate all that is active is the spring and not the gas in the shocks. These shocks would cost around €150 each including VAT to replace.

    4 Transmission

    In the case of geared quads, it is important to check that each gear can be individually selected. This should be done by counting the gears as it selects them. If a gearbox is damaged it would not be unusual for a gear to be skipped.

    If the 4WD is not working on a quad, depending on what’s wrong, it could cost somewhere in the region of €500-€600 including VAT to repair it.

    On electronic gear models, check gears can be selected upwards and downwards and in reverse. A lazy gear selection can indicate problems.

    If looking at a used quad with a selectable 4WD, it is important that it works. If the 4WD is not working, it can be costly to repair. Depending on what is wrong, whether it be shafts, couplings or the 4WD shift motor, it could cost somewhere in the region of €500 to €600 including VAT to repair it.

    5 Is it stolen or still on finance?

    Over the past five years, financing of new and secondhand quads has become popular. It is estimated that 60% of new quads sold today are on finance. If buying a used quad, you should carry out a finance check to ensure there is no remaining debt.

    One of the biggest risks when buying a used quad is to ensure it hasn’t been stolen. The VIN should be inspected to ensure its not missing or altered.

    Noel explained that one of the biggest risks when buying a used quad is that it might have been stolen.

    He said in his 20 years of experience in the business he has declined to accept many trade-ins offered with missing or altered Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs), more commonly known as chassis numbers.