Livestock margins help lift Welsh tractor sales
A buoyant livestock sector meant there were smiling faces along the machinery lines at the Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells. Robert Davies reports
IMPROVED livestock margins are keeping Welsh tractor sales buoyant for the third successive year.
Provisional registration figures, compiled by the Agricultural Engineers Association, indicate that 788 new tractors were sold in the first six months of the year – 10.8% more than in the same period in 1994.
Preparing for what Massey Ferguson anticipated would be one of its busiest Royal Welsh Shows in years, Robin Nicholson, the companys Wales business manager, said 1995 demand was the strongest since 1983. Sales had already surpassed the total for the whole of 1992.
"In 1994, sales totalled 1646 units, which was a 27% increase over the previous year," said Mr Nicholson. He added that farmers were again demonstrating their willingness to invest in new technology when economic conditions allowed.
But a Farmers Union of Wales spokesman cautioned that improved tractor sales were in part a product of under-investment over many years and not just a reflection of better margins. Big exports of top quality secondhand tractors had also created a shortage and forced farmers to buy new.
That said, there was no escaping the atmosphere of optimism along the machinery lines, which, as usual in a livestock farming region, were dominated by tractor stands.
Gwent-based dealer Frank Sutton reported strong interest in his full range of John Deere tractors and the Landini units he imports from Italy.
The latest of these, the 90hp Blizzard 95 XL, made its first appearance at a UK show, having arrived just a few days before the Builth Wells event.
"It was important to get it here because it is ideal for livestock farmers looking for a keenly priced, lower specification tractor," Mr Sutton claimed. "It has features like four-wheel braking and two-speed PTO but still retails for around £28,500."
There was also strong interest in three new models from the Czech Republic on the Zetor stand. Area manager, Glyn Webb, said one had arrived in Britain only 48 hours before.
The biggest of the three, the 8540 4WD, is powered by an 80hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine through a 16F/4R synchromesh gearbox with two-stage torque multiplier. Price of the 8540, which is supplied with a high spec cab, is £21,800.
Its slightly smaller brother, the 7540 4WD, has an almost identical specification but is powered by a 70hp engine and costs £19,500.
The third model in the trio, the 5243 4WD, is targeted at operators working in orchards, vineyards, market gardens and golf courses, who require a powerful tractor to work where access is restricted. Just 1.3m (4ft 3in) wide in standard format, it is powered by a 60hp three-cylinder engine and has a 10F/2R synchromesh gearbox.
Unlike the two other models, the 5243 will not be available until September. Provisional price is £14,850. *
Three new models from Czech manufacturer Zetor – the 5243, 7540 and 8540 – span the 60-80hp band. Prices range from £14,850 to £21,800, but the 5243 will not be available until September.