Video: ‘I started out doing a small bit of contracting work for local farmers’

AgriLand paid a visit to Co. Armagh, with Darren Bailey (a machinery dealer from Co. Laois), to meet Garth Cairns – who runs not only SlurryKat (a well-known machinery manufacturer) but Cairns Contracting too.

One business grew on the back of the other and, according to Garth, both now complement one another – with the contracting activities providing a “test-bed” for newly developed machines.

Our camera-man Kevin Farrell produced this video (below).

To kick off (in the video), we spoke to Darren (Bailey Machinery Sales) – SlurryKat’s main dealer in the Republic of Ireland.

He explained: “I suppose; the most unique thing about SlurryKat as a company is that – number one – they’re obviously making slurry and trailer equipment, but they were founded on a contracting business.

‘Test-bed for new machines’

“This contracting business is still in operation today and is used as a test-bed for all new products – before they ever reach the market,” added Darren (pictured below).

Garth joined the conversation, saying: “My background is really agricultural contracting. I started contracting just over 20 years ago, after I finished up the old school days.

“I started out in a small way – just doing a bit of work for a few local farmers.

As you know, contracting is not an all-year-round job. It’s hard to keep busy in the wet, cold days of winter – so we started doing a bit of welding and steel-work fabrication.

He continued: “We started manufacturing a few pieces of our own equipment – a few trailers. That’s sort of how we got into it…and where we’ve come from today.

“We got a wee bit better at it and, then, we saw an opportunity with the Nitrates Directive; it has completely revolutionised the whole slurry spreading industry.”

6-8 tankers per week

Garth went on to describe how these changes have shaped what SlurryKat does; he explained how the product range has grown – noting that the company built its first tanker 10 years ago – in 2009. It is now manufacturing six to eight units each week.

He also (in the video) reminisced about his own first tractor – a John Deere 3040. Cairns Contracting still relies on John Deere equipment today; heading up the current fleet is a flagship 8800i self-propelled forager.