Based in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, M&S Ryan Plant Hire Ltd are a second-generation family-owned company which specialises in forestry management. The company is headed up by Martin Ryan, who is joined in business by his son, Colin.

After leaving school at 15, Martin went to work with his father, who specialised is carrying out land drainage works, doing a huge volume of work for the Land Commission at the time. In 1985, he made the decision to go out on his own, and began mounding.

Mounding involves an excavator digging drains at regular intervals and placing the soil in mounds. The trees are then planted into those mounds, while it also enables the site to be drained, which combines to offer a good growing environment.

From there, the business developed and Martin soon began offering full forestry management. Today, the company works in both forestry and construction. The team of seven in the forestry side of the business focuses on road construction, mounding, drainage, mulching, laying walking paths, fitting barriers and general management. Around half of the firm’s work is carried out for semi State-owned body Coillte, while the other half is for private forestry companies. Nowadays, only Wicklow and south Dublin are covered by the firm.

Forestry mulchers

Last week, we visited the team at M&S Ryan Plant Hire while they were at work on the grounds of Avondale Forest Park. The team were using two FAE forestry mulchers, one on an excavator and the other on a tractor, to clear a section of established laurel trees, which can be difficult to cut.

The excavator model is a UML/HY, which is one of over 60 models of forestry mulchers built by FAE. This is a hydraulically driven mulcher, that features a fixed tooth rotor. The 80/50cc variable torque hydraulic piston motor (100-145 L/min) is internally positioned in the frame to protect it from dirt and any potential damage.

This model is designed to work on excavators from 7t to 15t, and to shred timber to a maximum diameter of 15cm. This unit is designed to work at a flow rate from 90l to 170l/minute. However, Martin feels that from his experience of using the machine, a 13t excavator set to offer a flow rate of around 120l/minute is the sweet spot to get good throughput out of the machine. He explained that the mulcher will cut timber up to six inches in diameter, but that it’s more economical to get a saw man to cut the bigger trees, and stay clearing the lighter stuff with the mulcher. Upon our visit, Martin was operating the mulcher head on a 14t Hitachi rubber duck. He noted that this is a great combo for working on the sides of roads, car parks, etc.

A dual row of protection chains stops much of the debris from flying out from the rotor.

The hydraulic rear hood also controls the flow of debris. Martin explained that by keeping the hood shut, it shreds the debris finer. Meanwhile, by keeping it open, it distributes the debris further away from the mulcher head, and doesn’t shred the material as fine.

Martin runs two excavator mounted machines, namely a UML/HY 125 and a 150. These have working widths of 1,342mm and 1,582mm, weigh in at 985kg and 1,085kg, both have a 425mm rotor diameter.

“Over the years, we have tried, tested and demonstrated many types of forestry machines and mulchers. For a long time, we found it hard to find a forestry mulcher that would stick the hard work day in day out, without having to replace wearing parts on a regular basis. When we came to buying a mulcher in 2017, we tried out two brands. The first brand had a set of flails worn off in a couple of acres, while the material didn’t seem to faze the FAE mulcher. We were really impressed with the FAE kit and bought the excavator mulcher during the demo, and subsequently bought a second larger model two years later”, explained Martin.

PTO-powered mulcher

Also built by FAE, the UML/S/DT is a PTO-driven, tractor-powered forestry mulcher which features a fixed tooth rotor. It has a mulching capacity of up to a 25cm diameter. Martin runs the mulcher on a New Holland T7.245, which he says handles it no problem, but noted that for comfort in mixed terrain you would want a front weight block.

As standard, the model features interchangeable spike counter blades and adjustable skids. As an optional extra, Martin opted to mount a hydraulic guard frame with ripper guide pins. This allows him to push away, or pull in brash, etc. The mulcher is fitted with inner anti-wear clad plates on the inside of the frame, which are designed to absorb wear on the inner section. A neat feature by the Italian firm is integrating the hydraulic hoses into the frame, which ensures they don’t sag between the tractor and the mulcher, which could result in them getting caught on the PTO shaft. One unique feature worth pointing spout is the W-style self-aligning device between PTO shaft and the gearbox. It allows the mulcher to work in several angles without damaging the PTO shaft. The unit also comes with a hydraulic top link. This mulcher also has a hydraulically controlled door. The ram cylinders that control the rear hood are very neatly protected when the hood is opened, by retracting into a tidy casing.

This particular model is a 225, which features a working width of 2,307mm, a rotor diameter of 450mm, weighs in at 1,825kg and features a maximum shredding diameter of 250mm. The 1,000 speed PTO runs very smoothly, and Martin complimented how cool the machine runs, even after a hard day’s work.

Although Martin purchased the machine for forestry works, he has been approached by farmers over the years to tackle overgrowth, such as rushes and scrub. Martin noted that the machine actually works very well in such conditions. He said that several times, they tackled jobs where standard flail mulchers had failed.

The fleet

Martin’s forestry management fleet of kit extends to include five excavators. This includes a 13t Cat, a 13 and 14t Kobelco, and two 14t Hitachi rubber ducks. Also included in the fleet are two Kubota 2.7t mini diggers. For trickier terrain, such as steep banks, Martin runs a Ferrai iCut 140, which is a robotic mini tracked mulcher.

To cater for a wide range of work, Martin has a large selection of grapples, flail heads, rotating grabs, mulchers and post drivers to match up with his fleet of excavators.


“I’m absolutely delighted with the FAE mulchers. I haven’t come across anything on the market that’s built as good or has the capacity to carry out so much work and show such little wear. The fixed tooth flails have really surpassed our expectations in terms of their lasting ability. Each machine would easily do a few hundred hours of work each year, and with the exception of some flails that would have been broken by stones, the PTO mulcher is still running on its original flails. I have found both machine types to be bulletproof. They just go to work every day and need very little maintenance, which is a big saving for us. We find that the two machines, the tractor and excavator, work really well together in the same job”, explained Martin.

What is FAE?

FAE is an Italian machinery manufacturer that builds machines to work in land clearing, construction and de-mining. With its headquarters near Trento, Italy, the firm was established in 1989.

The firm has four production sites and a network of dealers all over the world. Murphy Bros, based in Ferns, Co Wexford, distribute FAE equipment to the Irish market.

With a range of over 90 products and 400 models, this includes forestry mulchers and tillers, soil stabilisers, stump cutters, rock cutters, stone crushers and multitask heads. FAE builds attachments to work on tractors, excavators, skid steers, special vehicles and its own tracked carriers. It offers tracked vehicles with the option of a cab as well as coming in radio-controlled tracked vehicles, such as the PT-300 D:Mine remote controlled tracked carrier that is designed to reclaim and restore dangerous and unusable land.

Mounted hydraulic mulcher spec

  • Model: UML/HY 125.
  • Flow rate: 90-170l/min.
  • Excavator weight: 10-15t.
  • Working width: 1,342mm.
  • Weight: 985kg.
  • Rotor diameter: 425mm.
  • Max shredding diameter: 150mm.
  • Price: €24,700 plus VAT fitted.
  • Mounted PTO mulcher spec

  • Model: UML/S/DT 225.
  • PTO: 1,000rpm.
  • Working width: 2,307mm.
  • Total width: 2,670mm.
  • Weight: 1,825kg.
  • Rotor diameter: 450mm.
  • Max shredding diameter: 250mm.
  • Price: €43,500 plus VAT.