When it comes to supporting farming customers with innovative ideas, smart solutions and quality equipment, Agricare has set high standards in recent years, particularly amongst the nation’s fruit growers.

Now this dynamic business, based at Aylesham, just outside Canterbury in Kent, is planning to expand its offering to arable and livestock farmers across the South East with the aim of replicating its undoubted success with growers across a broader range of farmers and landowners.

To drive forward that ambition, Agricare has taken on three impressive new machinery brands, brought in a new member of the team to head up its work in the sector and announced plans to double the size of the parts, tools and fittings store at its easy-to-reach headquarters on the Aylesham Industrial Estate.

In one sense the renewed focus on arable and livestock farmers sees Agricare’s business model come full circle, as the company was originally set up as a parts and consumables supplier to the general farming world, but managing director Garth Worsley sees the shift in emphasis as going forward rather than back.

“Agricare has become known nationwide for the standard of service it offers fruit growers, not just in supplying the best equipment but in finding innovative ways of meeting challenges and tackling problems,” he explained.

“We have always prioritised talking to customers, finding out what they need and delivering the best possible service alongside quality products.

“We are now planning to take that same level of service to a broader customer base by expanding the range of products on offer so that it meets the needs of a wider range of livestock and arable farmers. We have always supplied those customers with the parts and consumables they need, but by partnering with Proforge, Hustler and Bateman we now have a bigger range of quality machinery to offer them.

“With Jack Ayling, our new sales adviser, meeting and chatting to farmers about how Agricare can help provide not just quality advice and parts but innovative new machinery solutions too, we are confident that we can continue to grow our customer base.”

It’s a confidence that has been backed by action, with Garth estimating that the family business will be investing around £1m in Agricare’s growth plans over the next two to three years.

The business has deep roots in the farming community, with Garth, brother Ross, who is sales director at Agricare, and five other siblings growing up in a farming family and helping to care for sheep and cattle amongst other responsibilities.

In 1994 Garth spotted an opportunity to set up a general agricultural supplies business and toured the country looking at similar enterprises before setting up Agricare the following year as an outlet for parts, oils, tools and consumables from their original Canterbury base.

The business grew rapidly and moved to a bigger outlet in nearby Dunkirk, and in 2007 the company began to focus on supplying the South East’s then-booming fruit industry. They added machinery under the Kirkland brand and in 2014 the two businesses split, with Agricare focusing on tools, parts and consumables.

In the meantime Agricare had developed its range of fruit and vineyard products to encompass planting and pruning equipment and is well-known as the only UK importer of the market-leading Electrocoup secateurs, which it also services and repairs on site.

Agricare also supplies Carmo trellising posts, a high-quality product with a 20-year guarantee which it imports from Portugal. Its close connections with the company – and its belief in the product – have seen it persuade Carmo to introduce new ranges of smaller posts that can be used for more general needs including stock fencing. 

“Carmo is renowned for its longevity in vineyards and I’m convinced it will be a real winner for those with more general fencing needs,” commented Ross. “We are delighted that the company also sees its potential and has come up with new product lines to support a broader customer base.”

Having won plaudits from growers not just in the South East but nationwide for the quality of its service, Agricare has added three new brands that will be of particular interest to a broader range of customers.

Proforge supplies cultivation equipment such as disc harrows, rollers and tine harrows, Hustler is a New Zealand brand of bale handling and feeding equipment and Bateman is known for the quality of livestock handling equipment including crushes, gates and the like.

The man in the know about the equipment now on offer – with more new ranges set to follow shortly – is Jack Ayling, who believes that the combination of reliable, quality equipment and Agricare’s experience in the industry will prove a winning combination.

“All the new ranges are well-built, durable pieces of equipment to which Agricare is proud to put its name. Not only that, but they are aimed at helping farmers improve their efficiency and reduce costs at what is a challenging time for many.”

As an example, Jack highlighted Hustler’s dual-purpose Hurricane bale feeder and bedder, which can feed and spread both round and square bales. The manufacturer claims “the patented 100% hydraulic-powered design is gentle on both feed and bedding straw reducing feed waste and jamming, maximising bedding life [and] minimising dust and projectiles”.

Jack pointed out: “New Zealand is one step ahead of us here in the UK in having no subsidies available to farmers, and so they have had to rely on innovative and forward-thinking approaches to cut costs. The ‘two-in-one’ Hurricane is one example of how they are doing this, and it’s a machine that we are finding local farmers are interested in.”

The same company’s Unrolla is another example of a well-designed, robust piece of machinery that is aimed at cutting costs and boosting efficiency. It is designed to feed out a wide variety of round bales, silage, hay or straw and features a patented self-loading system allied to the toughest chain/floor set up on the market.

Designed to feed out thousands of bales each year, Hustler’s trailed bale unrollers have covered driveshafts to eliminate wrapping and a stronger rear loading system design. “By spreading bales across the field, the Unrolla prevents poaching of the area around a traditional feeding pen and cuts waste significantly,” said Jack.

The Proforge range covers a variety of cultivation equipment, from low disturbance tillage kit aimed at those who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint to more conventional six metre discs. “They have one thing in common, though; they are well-built and durable,” commented Jack.

Bateman, meanwhile, supplies industry leading livestock handling equipment including hurdles, cattle crushes, sheep grips, water troughs and gates.

“The new ranges represent some of the best products available to farmers today, but my role is not just to sell equipment but to support and advise farmers as to the best option for their businesses,” said Jack. “Farmers are facing a range of challenges and we are here to help come up with solutions that will make them more able to meet those challenges.”

Agricare’s ambitious plans include doubling the size of the shop at the Aylesham site to around 4,000 square feet, allowing it to expand its range of tools, fittings, consumables, oils, PPE, wheelbarrows, signs, compressors, cleaning products, parts, hoses, maintenance products and the many other things that busy farmers need.

Domestic customers are also welcome at the shop, with many of the products suitable for larger gardens, smallholdings or allotments, while for those who can’t get there in person, Agricare’s relaunched website at
www.agricareuk.com makes it easy to buy a vast range of products online.

Agricare now covers Kent, East and West Sussex, Surrey and Essex, and the company’s expansion plans include looking at the possibility of opening new depots across the region. “It’s early days but we want to grow the business and stay close to the farmers we are here to support, and that is likely to include opening new branches,” said Garth.

Sales director Ross stressed that while broadening the company’s horizons, the team was determined to maintain its leading position in the fruit and vineyard sectors, supplying and advising on planting and pruning systems and stocking everything from ground anchors to rabbit guards and tying-in machines.

The company is also supplying Fruit Security Holland cover systems for soft fruit such as cherries, including hail net protection and systems that can be retrofitted to existing orchard structures.

“The company is expanding its ambitions, but it has built its reputation on supporting fruit growers and vineyards and that is never going to change,” Ross stressed.

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