6 June 1997

Arable tackle sales boom in east Germany

By Mike Stones

STRONG demand for machinery in eastern Germany is leading to buoyant sales of arable equipment, according to Bernd Scherer.

Speaking at a Press meeting in Leipzig, Dr Scherer, the general manager of the countrys machinery manufacturers association said demand from the arable sector, particularly from the large-scale former East German state farms, was helping to offset falling demand for livestock machinery following the BSE crisis.

"Sales of seed drills rose by 30% last year. Combine sales were up 9%, tractor sales rose by 8% and tillage equipment was up 7%," said Dr Scherer.

Livestock machinery sales were depressed by falling farm incomes due to the BSE crisis, low milk prices and milk quota restrictions, he said. Sales of balers fell by 17% and forage harvesters by 3%.

German machinery sales in the first quarter of this year totalled £670m; about the same level as last year.

Sales in 1996 reached £1.28bn; an increase of 4.6% on the previous 12 months.

Germany is Europes largest manufacturer of agricultural machinery, said Dr Scherer. The country accounted for 26% of European sales last year compared with 14% for France and 13% for the UK. Western Europe accounted for 64% of exports with France importing 21% of the total, the UK 10% and the Netherlands 5%.

The future of the European machinery industry lies in producing fewer, larger, more reliable machines, said Ottokar Bohmisch, chairman of LAV which celebrates in centenary this year.

"As farm size increases in Europe, demand will grow for larger-scale machines operating more hours. That will increase the importance of reliability in terms of carrying out key operations with the maximum of time effectiveness," he said.

Also more work will be carried out by contractors underlining the need for larger machines, predicted Mr Bohmisch.

At the same time it would be important to tailor inputs to the lowest possible capital requirements, he said. Large machinery reserves on farms would become a thing of the past.

&#8226 Germanys equivalent of the Royal Show, the biennial Agritechnica 97 event will be held in Hanover between Nov 11 and 15. Show organisers, the German agricultural society DLG, reports that more than 1200 companies and organisations will attend the event to be held at Hanovers Fairgrounds.