MORE power, more tracks, more reliability. Tractor horsepower continues to rise – it now averages over 116hp. Sales of tracked vehicles would suggest that the crawler concept has been reborn and, with most manufacturers reporting a drop in parts sales, greater reliability is now being achieved.
That is the good news.
The more depressing news is that tractor unit sales still struggle to maintain reasonable volumes – and profits for the hard pressed dealer network. The AEA forecasts a total of 11,500 registrations this year which, even at this stage of the year, some manufacturers believe could be optimistic.
John Deeres managing director Alec McKee, for example, believes there is reason to believe that tractor sales could fall in the short term as continued restructuring could see fewer but more powerful tractors being purchased.
Time will tell. But the stark fact is that if the industry is not receiving an adequate income from its produce, the investment in new tractors will remain limited.
In this issue of Tractor Focus, we take a look at several alternative tractor systems. At one extreme we discuss the use of low powered, no frills and relatively inexpensive tractors – and the advantages they could hold for, say, the livestock farmer. At the other, we take a look at the increasingly popular crawler tractor market, and the potential savings these powerful, high output machines can offer the large arable farmer.
For, more important than ever before, machinery has to pay its way and, through its choice, allow specific operations to be performed more efficiently.