Machinery market magic: 18,000 new tractor sales projected for 2021

Melody Labinsky
By Melody Labinsky
Updated December 30 2021 - 2:20am, first published 1:00am
Case IH Australia/New Zealand general manager Pete McCann says the three-year average for machinery sales is up considerably.

Machinery sales soared in 2021 in line with favourable seasonal conditions across much of Australia.

The growth in new tractor sales continued, while harvester sales dominated the latter quarter of the year.

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Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia executive director Gary Northover said more than 1000 harvesters have been sold, a figure not seen since 2011.

For tractors, Mr Northover said they were forecasting a full year of around 18,000 units.

Mr Northover said while they wouldn't see precise figures for some time, it had also been a big year for implement sales, with some suppliers shifting double the product.

Like many industries, procuring supply has proved challenging due to global shipping delays.

"Shipping delays have had an enormous impact on supply and while current sales figures are high, lead times on new orders continue to grow," Mr Northover said.

The three-year average for machinery sales is up considerably, according to Case IH Australia/New Zealand general manager Pete McCann.

Mr McCann said this was driven by tax incentives, good commodity prices, and Australia's bumper harvest, which had been reduced in some areas due to flooding.

Farmers had held onto machinery during several years of pretty solid drought, he said, and for many it was now the perfect time to upgrade.

"The tax incentive the first year was limited to a certain spend so that kind of bolstered the lower horsepower end of the business," he said.

"The second year they came out with no maximum spend, so then that obviously changed the dynamic of the demand."

Mr McCann said agriculture globally is exceptionally strong and it's an exciting time to be in the industry.

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John Deere Australia/New Zealand ag and turf sales and marketing director Steve Wright said he has witnessed strong growth across all agricultural sectors, as well as in the residential space, and all products from small to large equipment have been in demand.

"Despite the challenges of fires, drought and now floods this year, strong commodity prices and favourable seasonal conditions have led Australian producers to invest in new agricultural machinery, driving increased machinery sales," Mr Wright said.

Popular products

Mr McCann said interest in Case IH products had been pretty evenly spread during 2021.

He said the standout product was high-horsepower machines, made up of Case IH's flagship Magnum and Steiger tractors.

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For John Deere, one of the highlights of the year has been the arrival of the X series demonstration model harvesters.

Mr Wright said the machines are currently making their way around Australia, demonstrating the X series' increased harvesting capacity, power, and fuel efficiency.

The John Deere X9 1000 in action at a Hutcheon & Pearce X series demonstration day at Deniliquin, NSW.

New Holland broadacre product segment manager Marc Smith said thanks to excellent harvest conditions, the Twin Rotor CR 8.90 and CR 9.90 have been its most popular combine models.

When it comes to tractors, the T8 series has been one of the most popular tractors bought in New Holland's high horsepower range.

Mr Smith said this was thanks to the latest technological developments incorporating New Holland's Precision Land Management Intelligence software.

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There were also record sales and forward orders for the T6000, in the 83 to 123 kilowatt (111 to 165 horsepower) segment.

Technology advancements

New Holland Australia/New Zealand PLM product segment manager Chris Camilleri said PLMi technology has simplified processes for farmers and dealers so they can reduce downtime, improve the customer service experience and avoid unnecessary delays.

It is installed as a standard feature in the T7 HD, T8 and T9 tractors.

"The positive feedback we've received from customers speaks highly to the on-farm efficiencies the new technology provides," Mr Camilleri said.

"They're impressed with the reduction of downtime, real-time data availability, and remote software update capabilities."

Mr McCann said Case IH's AFS Connect technology was coming on in leaps and bounds from a customer demand point of view.

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He said growers were calling out for connectivity and want to see not just where a machine is but how it performs from a fuel efficiency and operations point of view.

"The biggest thing I like about it is the ability to be proactive about if there's an issue coming as the reality is all machinery breaks," Mr McCann said.

"It is put in different situations and has different demands but there are usually early warning signs from a monitoring standpoint and we can then get technicians out sooner."

The New Holland T8 tractor includes Precision Land Management Intelligence as standard.

Mr Wright said John Deere is looking forward to seeing See & Spray Select in the market in 2022.

"See & Spray Select has received a lot of interest this year from Australian producers, as it is both an effective targeted spray solution and highly productive broadcast machine, providing farmers with two time-saving sprayers in one when integrated on the new John Deere 400 or 600 series sprayers," Mr Wright said.

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"This was a particularly exciting product to launch here, as not only is it the first Original Equipment Manufacturer solution which delivers this capability, but it was developed in collaboration with Australian producers to ensure it's well adapted to our local conditions."

Shipping delays

Mr McCann said when it comes the sales process, the biggest thing that has changed is the lead time.

"We always had a long lead time being in Australia; that lead time would usually be at about the six-month mark, from walking in and ordering to arrival," he said.

"That's out now to a good 12 months and even further for some products."

Mr McCann said roll-on, roll-off shipping hadn't been too problematic and most of the challenges had been with containerised shipping.

With flights grounded in 2020 and reduced in 2021, air freight logistics had largely disappeared for almost two years.

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This had led to products going into shipping containers, which could take six to eight weeks to arrive, or on standalone air freight flights.

Mr Wright said COVID-19 has had a far-reaching impact on the smooth supply of parts and equipment globally and has placed strain on supply for many industries.

He said John Deere had enacted plans to mitigate the associated challenges that may affect the flow of products and services it provides.

"At a local level, we increased the in-flow of product to supply our Australia and New Zealand Distribution Centre by doubling our weekly air freight, and chartering dedicated flights to minimise the impact of delays," he said.

New Holland Australia national sales manager David Gibson said dealerships were actively taking customer orders well in advance in preparation for next season due to shipment delays occurring globally.

"Our dealers have shifted their approach to ensure we deliver for our customers by forward planning stock arrivals and customer needs," he said.

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Melody Labinsky

Melody Labinsky

National machinery and agtech writer

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