Tillage sales sees silver lining

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Amidst widely varying reports from 40 per cent up on sales to “never worse”, farming industry body Tractor Machinery Association is finally seeing encouraging signs of life in tillage sales for the first time since 2007.

Tillage sales sees silver lining
After several years in the doldrums sales of tillage gear and airseeders are showing encouraging signs of life.

The association made the positive conclusion after gathering reports and comments from leading tillage gear manufacturers and distributors across the country.

According to TMA, annual airseeder sales of around the 1000 mark were common prior to 2007 but 300 has been the more typical number since.

The body adds the poor tillage and airseeder sales were in stark contrast with the tractor and harvester categories which have both showed record – or near record results over recent reporting periods.

TMA executive director Richard Lewis says the government’s 15 per cent Conservation Tillage Refundable Tax Offset doesn’t appear to have driven the improved performance.

"It’s a bit surprising but our members report low awareness of the scheme amongst  customers and don’t believe it’s responsible for the improved sales figures," he says.

"The other comment we’re hearing is that the uplift is coming more from tillage planters than airseeders."

Agricultural and industrial manufacturer Gason has reported the most positive response among all surveyed.

Gason marketing manager Peter Piddington says the company is 40 per cent up on last year with the increase coming evenly from all states with the exception of South Australia.

"We haven’t seen any lift in South Australia but WA is showing a very substantial increase."

Distributors of North American imports Seed Hawk and Flexi-Coil are on the same page, having reported variable but generally positive results.

Seed Hawk National Sales Manager Tim Needham says sales of wide broadacre machines have been strong especially in Western Australia and South Australia.

"We’re up 50 per cent overall compared with last year with all the growth coming from broadacre,"

"In the past we’ve been very strong in small disc seeders especially in Victoria but that’s pulled back."

"It’s surprising just how strong our market is for really big machines. You would expect the unit numbers to decline with wider machines often replacing two smaller ones but we haven’t seen that."

He says he is spotting a trend in the industry towards precision placement and guidance.

"We’re seeing increasing demand for section control and full variable rate control," Needham says.

On the other end of the spectrum, Gyral’s Roger Fuss says sales have "never been worse".

"I believe they (farmers) are in pretty good shape and have the capacity to buy, but are reluctant to take on any new commitments," he says.

"There seems to be a lot of uncertainty around. The message from dealers is very much one of gloom and doom. "

Things were slightly better for Flexi-Coil’s Steve Mulder as he says the first quarter was very strong for the company but that came to a sudden halt in April.

We’ve been growing year on year but it’s a very inconsistent market at present," he says.

"Some pockets are doing really well and others are just the opposite."

Mulder says he felt the change in purchasing patterns since wheat market deregulation, rendering cash flow and purchasing patterns to no longer be predictable.

"We’re urging our customers to forward order as much as possible. It helps us manage stock levels with flow on benefits to them," he says.

Disc machine specialist Grizzly Engineering’s marketing manager Skye Poltrock says the company has been ticking along for the last couple of years but calls have dried up recently.

"But we are a fairly small business and a few phone calls can take us from slow to flat out. We’re definitely noticing increasing interest in disc equipment."

"Farmers are looking for a means of dealing with high stubble loads, weed resistance and a way of generally zero tilled paddocks back into order."

Click to browse tillage and seeding equipment for sale on TradeFarmMachinery.com.au.

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