14 SMEs that caught our eye at ‘The Ploughing 2015’

Here are 14 SMEs that caught the eye of ThinkBusiness at The Ploughing Championships 2015. 

The Ploughing Championships, held this year in Ratheniska, Co. Laois, is an annual event that, in many ways, is indescribable. One can use words like ‘enormous’ and ‘vast’ and phrases like ‘on a scale never seen before’ but they don’t quite sum up how gargantuan an event this is.

In its 84 years, the ‘ploughing’ has evolved from a simple ploughing competition into Europe’s largest outdoor event. It is an end-of-Summer celebration of the people who work outdoors in Ireland and the importance of what they do.

Farmers rule

Farmers are the most important SME owners and operators in the country because food and drink manufacturing is the most important industry in Ireland. It employs over 50,000 directly and 180,000 indirectly in farming and support industries.

Food and drink exports now total €10.5 billion with strong growth in the dairy and beef categories.

This year’s ploughing saw enormous exhibition areas for all the major vehicle and machinery brands. There were tractors, harvesters, spreaders, trailers, jeeps and cars in abundance. However, the ploughing is also very much about SMEs and micro-businesses who exhibit at the event and sell their wares.

From food manufacturers to beauty products, water-testing kits to electric heaters; a record number of small businesses temporarily re-located to the ploughing for the three days of the event.

For example, all 31 Local Enterprise Offices, which are part of the Local Authority network, supported small businesses at the ploughing, representing sectors such as food, retail, tourism, manufacturing, energy and sport.

Below are 14 SMEs that caught the eye of ThinkBusiness at the ploughing:

1: St Mel’s Brewing – an Irish-owned independent brewery firm based in Longford. Its mission is “to brew the highest quality beers from the best possible ingredients, combining innovation, passion, and tradition”, and judging by its products, this brewery has huge potential.

2: Inspect 4 Hoof Trimming – this ingenious invention allows the farmer to inspect cattle and other animals in a safe and controlled environment. A clever solution and a great advancement in farm safety.

3: Irish Farmerette – Lorna Sixsmith is the creative force behind such books as ‘Would you marry a farmer’, and the book she was selling at this year’s ploughing, ‘How to be the perfect farm wife’. Married to a real farmer, Lorna also runs social media and eLearning courses. Check out her website.

4: Moocall – another clever Irish invention that solves a big issue for dairy farmers. Moocall is a calving sensor for cows that enables them to alert a farmer via SMS around one hour before calving. One of the busiest stands at this year’s ploughing and no wonder. 

5: Swiftflo Commander – this is an entire processing system installed throughout the milking facility. It was the winner of the National Ploughing Championships’ Innovation Awards.

6: Kingswood Computing – this Irish company has been developing functional, easy-to-use software for dairy and beef farmers since 1987. Run by Gerry Lynskey, its main products Kingswood Herd, Field and Accounts, contain the main recording requirements for bovine livestock farms.

7: Acres machinery – this is a highly innovative Roscommon-based company that manufactures high-quality, robust farm machinery and can meet the needs of individual farmers. A very impressive company.

8: Pip & Pear Chilled Baby Food – a new baby food range that was conceived in the kitchen of Waterford mum and restaurateur Irene Queally. Excellent products and brilliant branding.

9: Lely Center Mullingar – robots milking cows. The crowds were impressed at this year’s ploughing as they watched a demonstration of the Lely Astronaut Milking Robot.

10: Farmflo app – this is a practical and easy-to-use app that allows farmers meet their compliance needs in an extremely time efficient manner. A must have for farmers today. 

11: Rí na Mara – producing organic Irish seaweed cosmetics and marine extract skincare products. The company is based in Connemara, Galway.

12: Goatsbridge Trout Farm – based in Thomastown Kilkenny, on the river Nore, established in 1961. This company farms rainbow trout. A beautiful brand, producing high-quality products.

13: Canning Hurleys – Joe and Ollie Canning produce handmade Hurleys of the highest quality. This was one of the busiest stands at this year’s ploughing. Practically every teenager at the event seemed to be walking around with a Hurley in hand.

14: Boru Stoves – a father and son business based in Templemore. The firm manufactures and sells high-quality stoves in Ireland. The company was set up in 2008 and now employs 85 people.

Another highlight of this year’s ploughing was the farmer ‘tweet ups’ at the IFA tent. Farmers who communicate with each other on social media sites like Twitter could meet in person. Follow #agchatirl and @irelandsfarmers on Twitter to see what Ireland’s young farming community talks about in the evenings.

And finally, congratulations to Ian Bolger – winner of the prestigious young innovator award for his tractor loader safety system.