On the back of bumper seasons in select areas of the state – in stark contrast to some of the toughest seasons seen in a number of regions – how farmers are preparing for the season ahead and what equipment and machinery purchases they are making is wide and varied.
A constant though, according to sales staff at equipment dealerships with operations across the Eyre Peninsula and further afield, is the desire to find ways and equipment to better manage stubble loads and be more efficient with sowing and seed placement.
Ramsey Bros group sales manager Tim Glover said it was hard to lock down any particular product or trend emerging from recent sales.
“Tillage seems to be becoming more of a want for many growers as they look to continue to find the best way to deal with their stubble loads and trash,” he said.
“Given the drier seasons over the past few years, upgrades to tillage equipment that improve the odds of finding moisture are becoming more and more popular.
“They are looking at digging deeper, chasing moisture, looking at improving sowing times – shortening in-field time – and equipment that deals with trash.
“Tillage that deals with trash consistently means they can take less stubble at harvest and improve their capacity and efficiency of their combines.”
There remains a mix of farmers who will still only upgrade when they can pay cash and others who are happy to use finance options, Mr Glover said.
“Many of our bigger growers are locked into a machinery change-over plan where they know exactly when they will change their front line equipment,” he said. “Tractors, combines and sprayers are the more regularly changed equipment. The more progressive growers are generally doing this within a four-year time frame.
“What I can say is that in areas that have performed well there is plenty of talk about debt reduction and also the acquisition of further farming land. The big are getting bigger and the overall numbers of growers are reducing.’’
Mr Glover said Ramsey Bros outlets, which cover much of the state with the exception of the Riverland and South East, had seen a mixed vibe from customers.
“Guys on the lower EP are obviously excited with how 2018 finished. Having said that, there was still widespread frost damage, but this was offset by strong demand for hay and high prices,” he said.
“Upper EP also performed moderately well in some areas – Wudinna-Buckleboo and some areas of Kimba – and the vibe in these areas is cautious optimism.
“The central EP had another very ordinary year. Some of the bigger growers that sowed very late – a gamble – did OK but that are very gun shy through these areas after two very ordinary years. Unfortunately the wind played a massive factor this year with unprecedented blows and resultant drift.
“The Mid North was again inconsistent and the felling through our areas there are very ordinary. This is an area that is, in general, pretty consistent and they do take it hard when things don’t at least come in on average. There was massive frost damage here in 2018 with many complete wipe outs.
“Murray Bridge and the Mallee were also areas that were just all over the place.
“There are a number of growers that are very upbeat with what they saw in 2018 and are quietly optimistic about 2019.
“I think what I am seeing is that the large number of people are happy that 2018 is done and dusted and we look forward to 2019. Non-existent summer rains are a talking point but many also understand that it is still early.”
Mr Glover said Ramsey Bros was proud to be selling the Australian designed and built Stoll spraying range and also the new Morris Quantum Tillage Bar.
“Both of these pieces of equipment are making their mark in the market and offer farmers some serious productivity gains and are great value for money with superior strength and build quality,” he said.
Curtis Machinery Tumby Bay salesman Kieran Laver said there were a lot of upbeat farmers in his immediate region.
I think what I am seeing is that the large number of people are happy that 2018 is done and dusted and we look forward to 2019.
“Some people not far away from here are very envious of others but that’s just the way it goes,” he said.
The good season in the district has farmers looking at a wide range of equipment improvements, with “pretty much everything” being purchased, according to Mr Laver.
“A lot of rock gear. When I say rock gear I mean rock pickers and windrowers, and also headers for this year,” he said.
“There’s some seeding gear being sold but the seeding gear is getting a bit late unless it’s used. People who are looking at seeding gear, they’re all looking at a variable rate set-up now and trying to integrate it into what they’ve already got in their tractor.
“Some of them aren’t necessarily even using the variable rate but they’re just wanting the option to be there because that’s where they want to be in X amount of years. I think it is pushing that way.
“Both the air carts we have are good products – it’s just a matter of what the person wants to do. They can fit into any tractor.
“The air cart hasn’t really changed too much in our product, it’s just a matter of how we are able to integrate it into everyone’s different brands and technologies they already have.”
Mr Laver said in harder hit areas of Eyre Peninsula, he had the feeling many were trying to forget about the tough season and move forward.
“They are sought of ignoring what happened last year and it’s full steam ahead and trying to set themselves up for the best position this year, I’ve found,” he said.
“Generally, there are still some who haven’t moved past it but they have had two years of it not being great and that’s been a lingering thing. This year was a lot more publicised, but the year before there were a lot more people out there who struggled through in silence.”
Exciting for Curtis Machinery was their recent move into the quad tracked market.
“We’ve only just gone into the quad tracked market, articulated tractors with four tracks, and we’ve sold the first one in Australia and we've sold the only ones in SA,” Mr Laver said.
“People are looking to move forward because they’re more than willing to go out and rip up their grounds at the moment to get them into a better position for this year.”