9 April 1999

Manufacturers gain from the rain in Spain

RAIN in rural Spain makes everyone happy – farmers, the supply industries and particularly machinery manufacturers. For the past four years rain has fallen at the just the right time for most of the countrys 900,000 full-time farmers – even those growing winter cereals in the notoriously dry Castilla y Leon region.

Cereal, forage, vegetable crops and vineyards have benefited from the rain, and so has the countrys tractor industry, said Louis Pichot, president of Spains manufacturer and importers association ANSEMAT. "Farmers have had money to invest over the past four years. Not only have yields been good, but recently interest rates have fallen too."

Tractor sales have doubled from 13,000 units to 25,550 last year – an 11.2% increase compared with the previous 12 months.

Average horsepower has also climbed to reach 85hp compared with 65hp only a few years ago, said Mr Pichot.

Topping Spains tractor sales league last year was New Holland with a market share of 24.4%, followed by John Deere, 22.9%; Agco, 15%; Same-Deutz Fahr, 14% and Landini, 7.5%.

Sales of other machines on the home market also rose last year. Materials handlers, ploughs and sprayers showed the biggest increases (see table) of 61%, 58% and 29%, respectively. Spanish equipment and tractor makers also did well abroad, according to their trade association Agrajex which represents exporters of agricultural machinery. Last year exports reached £143.9m compared with £110.7m in 1997, an increase of nearly 30%. Topping the shopping list of importing countries was livestock feeding and breeding equipment where sales grew from £28.8m to £42.3m over the year.

Exports contribute more than 30% of most manufacturers turnover, said Pedro Rifa, Agragexs president and general manager of cultivation specialist Agric. "We are keen to exploit growing markets such as Latin America as well as the EU markets. Exports will become increasingly important because sales will inevitably fall at home with fewer farmers and pressure on incomes following CAP reform," said Mr Rifa.

He could be right. Many tractor makers at FIMA were forecasting the tractor market to decline by 15-20% over the coming year. Then again, that all important rain fell once more last week giving autumn-sown crops an unexpected boost and topping up soil moisture levels.


1998 1997 %

Tractors 25,041 22,518 +11

Combines 951 800 +19

Handlers 113 70 +61

Ploughs 394 249 +58

Sprayers 2095 1620 +29

Produce bales on the move

BALE packs of 12 or 14 conventional bales weighing 300-500kg (660-1102lb) are produced by the Belair, fully-automatic in-line, on-the-move compactor.

Bales are transferred directly from the bale chamber into the compactor where they are turned through 90deg and fed into the compaction chamber.

Two hydraulic rams squeeze the two layers of four bales together before the tying cycle, which uses four conventional baler knotters, begins.

The system has been designed for farmers who want to combine the convenience of small bales for rationing and the benefits of handling large packs, says the Spanish company Urgell. The equipment will cost farmers in the region of £24,000.

A rugged direct drill, ideal for dry conditions is how Semilas Lage describes the two new additions to its drill range. Two models are available with working widths of 3.5m (11.5ft) and 4.4m (14.4ft) and hopper capacities of 850 litres and 1075 litres, respectively. Inter-row spacing of the double disc coulters, which can be adjusted independently for penetration, is 17cm (6.8in).

Compact tractors prove particularly attractive

COMPACT tractors are big business in Spain. Used for intensive livestock, vegetable cropping and in vineyards, sales rose by 17% last year. Export sales of tractors up to 75hp also increased reaching more than £10.7m – double the 1997 figure.

One company trying to get a larger share of the Spanish market is Italian maker Carraro. It is pinning its hopes on the stylish TC and TF compact ranges which feature a low-profile, air-conditioned cab. That fits within the tyre area and its curved lines are designed to minimise damage to orchard trees. Inside, height is a comfortable 170cm (5.5ft). The air-conditioning unit and carbon air filters are easily accessible from the back of the cab.

Both ranges include the new Actio oscillating chassis which permits a shorter turning radius than previous models and greater stability on sloping land. The two-model TC range, available with 47hp and 60hp water-cooled engines, has a low under-axle clearance of 27cm (10.6in).

The TF models have an under-axle clearance of 28cm (11in) and are available in three engine sizes: 64hp, four-cylinder; 75hp, three-cylinder (turbo-charged) and 83hp, four-cylinder turbo-charged.

JD drill debut

PRESSURE on cereal margins has increased demand for high-capacity minimal tillage drills in Spain. John Deere is about to offer a helping hand with its trailed 740A pneumatic disc drill.

The seeding mechanism is based on the Accord principal. Seed is metered into the airstream from the 3500 litre hopper for distribution to the disc coulters spaced at 15cm (6in) along the 8m (26ft) coulter frame. The drill chassis, hopper and metering mechanism are carried on four, 31 x 115.50 Goodyear Terra Tires. &#42

Pneumatic seeder on the trail. John Deeres 740A drill gets an airing at the Fima show.