Rain, mud and more mud. This years Irish National
Ploughing Championship event proved to be a testing
occasion. Andy Collings donned the leggings and
trawled the machinery lines to find useful innovations
THE Irish Ploughing Event, with its 150,000 visitors and extensive machinery displays, will never be renowned for its clement weather – but this year it surpassed all expectations.
Ankle deep mud at best, axle deep more likely – visitors struggled gamely on through torrential rain to discover all that was new at Europes largest outdoor agricultural event.
And with Irish farmers currently enjoying rather more prosperity than their UK counterparts, most exhibitors reported reasonably full order books.
Tractor sales, for example, have been making some healthy strides forward during the past two years – 1998 saw an increase of some 20% on 97 and, for the first three months of this year, sales are running at 20% above those of last year. The reason for such increases though, is not immediately obvious.
Like UK farmers, beef, lamb and pig prices have been low and cereal returns have suffered from poor harvesting conditions.
Ironically, several tractor manufacturers put the increase in tractor sales down to the poor sales of new machines in the UK.
Sales in the UK, they say, have been depressed to the extent that the second hand market – a market which has traditionally sustained the Irish market – has all but dried up.
Another factor, which has encouraged sales of all machinery types in Ireland, is the countrys continued low interest rate.
In terms of specific machinery, there is now an increasing trend towards the sale of larger kit as contractors take an ever-bigger slice of on-farm activities. It is estimated for example, that contractors are responsible for making 95% of Irelands silage. So, weather aside, the Irish Ploughing match proved to be its usual successful event and one which drew a reasonable crop of new machinery launches.