Good season key to sales

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Machinery dealers have their hopes pinned on a good season just as much as farmers, as growers tighten their belts and hold off on new purchases.

Vendors at the 2011 Wagin Woolorama said machinery sales were continuing a slowing pattern despite farmers expressing interest in new products.

Morris sales manager Keith Shepherdson said buying machinery depended on the individual business’ position and although some were in a cycle of purchasing, others would hold off until they had a good season.

“There’s been some good interest, but most of it is probably for the future rather than purchasing today,” he said at Woolorama. “It’s for two or three years time, most of it is preparation inquiry.”

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Greenline marketing manager Ken Paolini said machinery dealers, like farmers, were waiting for rain.

“We’ve had people expressing a bit of light interest, just really stuff we’ll follow up on once this all finishes, but it hasn’t been what we’re used to at Woolorama,” he said.

“I think after about three seasons of it not really happening, guys are a bit anxious and I guess reserved in what they commit to. They’d like to see some rain.”

But if growers do get the long waited for growing season rain, Mr Paolini is predicting a spike in machinery sales.

“All the other planets are in alignment — the prices are right— we’ve just got to have some rain and once that comes it’s all pretty much a positive outlook,” he said.

“With the way things are looking and the support they’re going to get from price, if they can get the right amount of crop in the ground then we’ll be having a lot of traffic and a lot of inquiry.

“It’s been a while, so a lot of people are waiting to upgrade.”

A lot of those upgrades are expected to centre around precision agriculture (PA) technology, which all dealers said was gaining the most attention from growers at Woolorama.

James Evans, of Geoff Perkins Farm Machinery Centre, that said despite tough seasons, growers were still investing in GPS to improve efficiency.

“I’d say it’s precision seeding and variable rate with liquid option that growers are most interested in,” he said.

Farmers Centre guidance and sales consultant Kevin Newman said if anything, PA sales had picked up as cropping margins tightened.

“There has been a spike this year, people are wanting to save on costs,” he said.

“I guess the spreaders are first and that’s probably the easiest way to start, then probably the airseeder is the second option, particularly if they’ve got a bin already set up for it.

“They’re now looking at getting maps and the stuff to be able to go variable rate automatically.

“To an extent, it’s driven by just the fact that they haven’t got as much money to spend and if they can reduce their costs by 10 per cent they want to do it.”

Echoing the sentiments of most at Woolorama, Mr Newman’s hope for the coming season is put simply: “some rain would be nice”.

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