EXHIBITORS were pleasantly surprised at the attendance and positive mood of growers visiting the Grain 97 event at the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh.
"Its an encouraging end to a very good year for us," said Ian Turner of drier maker Law-Denis Engineering. "Many growers have cut back on field machinery investment but feel they can still justify expenditure on fixed equipment. As one grower put it, a good drier and storage installation can add value to what you bring off the field, and give you more marketing flexibility."
Richard Flach of bulk drying systems company, Flach & Le-Roy, agreed that business has held up well. He is optimistic that it will stay that way next year but beyond that he is more doubtful that UK growers will be in a position to spend enthusiastically on capital projects.
Many Grain 97 visitors also had the temporary 50% capital investment tax allowance in mind, as well as the current emphasis on crop assurance that demands clean, well-managed stores.
Elsewhere, companies also recognised that some growers want to pay less for new drying facilities. Opico has trimmed £2,120 and £2,600 off its two smallest portable driers, while Danagri 3S has knocked £3,500 off its T2 10t/hr cascade drier. The pay-off, in both cases, is that specifications have been simplified.
Lingward of Pelham, which makes timber drying floors, flagged price cuts due to cheaper imported hardwood prices thanks to the strength of the pound.
For all these incentives, though, many growers simply see this as a good a time as any to replace or upgrade facilities if the need is there. As BDCs David Owen put it: "Some farmers say they had better spend now before it gets any worse."
Technical tweaks rather than brand new technologies were the order of the day at this years Grain 97 event. Peter Hill scoured the exhibits for techno-titbits.