Falling arable margins take toll on new tractor registrations

Tractor registrations in the first sixth months of 2024 have reached their lowest level in four years, following a particularly sharp drop in June.

Latest figures from the Agricultural Engineers’ Association (AEA) show that new registrations last month came to just 869 units across all power bands, almost a quarter less than in the same month last year.

The result means that tractor registrations have been below year-ago levels for every month this year, resulting in a 13% downturn for the full six-month period compared with the first half of 2023.

See also: Tractor market makes slow start in 2024

The actual number of units registered stood at 5,882.

Compared with the five-year average, that figure is some 8% below the numbers recorded between 2018 and 2022, and is the lowest total reached by this point in the year since 2020.

AEA chief economist Stephen Howarth says the weaker market is not unexpected, though points out it follows a couple of stronger years for the tractor trade.

“It has been a difficult time recently, especially for arable farmers who are the big buyers of new tractors,” he said.

“Cereal prices have fallen, input costs are still high and the weather has played a part.

“Farmers are expecting smaller crops and lower quality this harvest, so are more cautious about investing.”

Mr Haworth also suggests that, with farmers kept off the land for much of the winter and spring, existing tractors may not have had as much use this year.

“If you’re not using it so much, you’re probably not thinking about replacing it either,” he said.

Political uncertainty in the run-up to the recent general election, and what a change of government might mean for the future of farming and the investment environment, may also have been behind the sharper (23%) drop in June registrations compared with June 2023.

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