Fields of dreams as farmers flock to tractor show

Aaron Trench, Garryduff, Claremorris, Co Mayo at the Farm Machinery Show in Punchestown, Co Kildare. photograph: carol dunne

Aaron Trench, Garryduff, Claremorris, Co Mayo at the Farm Machinery Show in Punchestown, Co Kildare. photograph: carol dunne

Fri, Feb 8, 2013, 00:00

There wasn’t a rustle of a promissory note at the opening day of the Farm Machinery Show in Punchestown, Co Kildare, yesterday. It was an oasis of calm for anyone trying to escape from talk of Anglo and the ECB. Visitors to the show were more interested in forage harvesters than in Frankfurt.

Nor was the burger crisis a focus of discussion – the only time a horse was mentioned was when it came to a tractor’s horse power and farmers stood marvelling at tractors costing up to €200,000.

There was one Deutz-Fahr tractor on sale for €4 but it was a very small one for children. Their parents could buy the adult version – a 263 horsepower model costing €125,000.

The one on display not only won the Tractor of the Year award, but also the much sought-after Golden Tractor award for its design.

It is all about ergonomics, explained David Jefferson from Deutz-Fahr as he showed The Irish Times around the cab, which felt like being in the cockpit of a private jet, all glass, sleek controls and Led lights.

This year’s show expects to attract more than 17,500 visitors before it ends on Saturday.

More than 140 stands are displaying machinery worth over €12 million. “It’s our biggest show since it started in the RDS in 1989,” says Conor Breen, who sells farm machinery in Cashel, Co Tipperary and is president of the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association, which holds the show every second year. “You could say farming is recession-proof. Farmers are survivors and agriculture is the only show in town at the moment.”

Bucked trend

Tractor sales bucked the recessionary trend by jumping 23 per cent last year, while combine harvester sales doubled from 40 to 80 machines. Last year was a good year for Malone Farm Machinery in Claremorris, Co Mayo. It sold 12 pineapple trailers to Panama and Costa Rica, not something many machinery manufacturers could boast about. Mike Malone says the trailers are used for carrying pineapple seeds, which are the size of potatoes, to the fields for planting. “They are working very well so we are hoping to sell 10 or 11 more this year. Export business is good. We are selling to places like Chile, South Africa and Germany.”