A crowd just shy of 60,000 flocked to the 2017 Henty Machinery Field Days to inspect the “agribusiness supermarket’’, showcased by 867 exhibitors on the biggest site area in the event’s history.
Held on September 19-21, the 54th annual field days featured 14km of outdoor shop fronts on over 1200 sites.
Despite the prospect of a dry spring, visitors responded by travelling from every state in Australia, armed with their shopping lists.
Exhibitors reported buoyant sales and solid follow-up leads.
This year featured the largest physical site area, cementing Henty as the single biggest outdoor and agricultural event in Australia.
HMFD chairman Ross Edwards said strong inquiry centred on the larger horsepower tractors, air seeders, cultivator bars, loaders, diggers, cattle handling equipment and chaser bins.
“The site was outstanding this year, and things being dry it made it an easy field day to run,’’ Mr Edwards said.
“Unfortunately we do need some rain.
“There were quite a few sheep feeders, cattle crushes, feed out carts and augers selling due to the dry conditions.’’
Mr Edwards said the gate figures were close to 60,000 visitors.
“We always strive to put on an event where there is something for everybody,’’ he said.
Mr Edwards said planning for the 2018 event was already under way.
The field days were officially opened on Tuesday, September 19 by Mark Bennett, Head of Agribusiness and Emerging Corporate, Regional Australia, ANZ.
A highlight of this year was the coveted Henty Machine of the Year Award being presented to Canadian manufacturer Bourgault for the 3420 PHD Paralink Hoe Drill.
Highly commended was the Coolamon All Rounder from Coolamon Chaser Bins, Coolamon, NSW.
Barooga farmer Barry Bennett won the Henty Agri-Innovators Award with his Slip Tie after entering 46 inventions at the field days since 2001.
In other awards, the Kelly Tracking Trailer from Kelly Engineering, Booleroo Centre, SA, won the Greater Hume Shire Award for the best new Australian designed and built agricultural machine.
Sales manager Cavin Osborn said interest in the trailer had been strong at the Henty Machinery Field Days.
“To win an award like this puts us in the limelight and we are very excited about what it means, and what it can do for us,’’ Mr Osborn said.
“We have been exhibiting at Henty for about 10 years and it is a perfect spot to sell our diamond harrows, discs and prickle chain modules.’’
Always a crowd favourite, the Exelpet three sheep field trial drew a record 120 entries and their handlers from around the nation.
Mick Hudson, Eumungerie, NSW, took out the event with his Border Collie, Perangery Marge.
Drawing a record 140 entries, the Exelpet Murray Valley Yard Dog Championships were dominated by Jake Nowlan, Grenfell, NSW, and his dog Amos Zone.
It was back-to-back wins for New Zealand fashion designer Laurel Judd with a stunning cream lace felted formal dress featuring a circular overskirt to take out the 14th Henty Natural Fibres Fashion Award supreme garment.
The competition drew more than 80 entries, including 28 millinery entries.
Karen Hyde, Wagga, won the millinery section, Laurel Judd, New Zealand, the knitted and crocheted section, Cathy Upton, Wodonga, the accessories and Anne Bilston, Rutherglen, the student encouragement award.
Mark McKenzie, Tasco Petroleum, Mildura, said NSW and Victorian customers had spent up on lubricant and fuel products.
“This was our best year ever for moving product off the site,’’ Mr McKenzie said.
Coolamon Chaser Bins sales manager Peter Munro reported exceptional product inquiry, considering the dry conditions.
“We were inundated with the release of our new All Rounder bin, with a lot more inquiry than we expected on it as well as across the whole range of our products,’’ Mr Munro said.
“The All Rounder (on display) was sold on tracks to a Western Australia grower plus there were some good strong leads to follow up.’’
AGCO Australia national sales manager Stephen Nankivell said hay implements had been a big success this year at Henty.
“There was interest in the flagship 420hp Fendt 1042 Vario tractor and the new telehandler up to the new Gleaner S9 Series header,’’ Mr Nankivell said.
“We have sold ride-on and zero turn mowers off the stand plus merchandise, such as toys.
“With the larger horsepower tractors, it really is a case of generating interest and following up.
“Growers are being careful as they are unsure of the future in the short to medium term, so the message we are getting is buying decisions are being made in a much more calculated manner.
“Farmers are looking at the total cost of ownership over three to five years and beyond.
“Impulse buying is not a feature of people’s buying decisions at the moment.’’
Hutcheon and Pearce group sales manager Andrew Sands said visitor feedback had been positive with strong merchandise sales.
The company also had an equipment demonstration area for the first time at Henty.
“We have seen a mixed spread of inquiry right from lawn mowers to the gators, compact tractors, into the livestock farmers’ loader tractors and the larger broad acre tractors, harvesters and Shelbourne stripper front,’’ Mr Sands said.
“There is still some promise for certain areas that the season will be OK.
“We had a few sales, especially in the lawn mowers and compact tractors.’’
Mr Sands said Henty was an important event for the region and the major field days for the company.
“To showcase all our products in the one spot is still the key for us – customers can sit on the product and talk to someone about it,’’ he said.
“Being at Henty is the most important part of our marketing for the whole year.
“There is so much on offer at Henty our customers are telling us they are coming for two days.
“Many customers are looking at specifications on-line and then talking to us here about the finer details.’’
Case IH product manager harvest and hay equipment, Tim Slater, said the site had hosted heavy pedestrian traffic across Henty.
Case IH staff celebrated 175 years of machinery manufacture with a celebration at The Stump on Thursday, and a site display.
Mr Slater said interest ranged from the smaller Farmall to the Puma and Maxxum tractor range, including the newly landed 270-300hp Optum CVT Series, plus self-propelled sprayers.
“Henty provided a really good opportunity for the Optum to be seen for the first time in southern NSW,’’ he said.
“It is a high technology tractor combining the horsepower of the Magnum with the manoeuvrability of the Puma.’’
Mr Slater said the Magnum Rowtrac and Quadtrac tractors drew interest from growers wanting to reduce compaction and increasing flotation.
Kotzur sales manager Malcolm Bruce said inquiry focused on large and small silos, and grain handling equipment, including the new Kotzur unloader for flat-bottomed silos.
The company is fully booked for new silo deliveries until next autumn.
“The fact we are sold out for this year has taken the edge off demand,’’ Mr Bruce said.
“Inquiry was strong right from the smaller 40 tonne pellet silo through to the 100 tonne largest transportable silo into large on-site silo complexes of 500 to 1600 tonnes.’’
Kubota zone manager southern NSW Scott Milner reported a terrific three days, with attention focused on ride-own mowers and the new 130-170hp M7 tractor range.
Kubota showcased the newly launched Krone ZX Series of self-loading silage wagons at Henty.
“We increased our site this year and made it a construction zone with excavators and front end loaders,’’ Mr Milner said.
“We sold about 20 units of mowers, RTVs and compact tractors.’’
Metalcorp Steel’s Victorian rural manager John Clark said buyer interest focused on crushes, cattle yards, and cattle and sheep handling systems.
Mr Clark reported sales of up to 15 cattle crushes over the three days into Victoria and northern NSW.
Catering groups were kept busy across the week as visitors chowed down, with all profits being ploughed back into the community.
St Paul’s Lutheran School volunteer Felicity Klemke said the shed served 2600 steaks, 18 lamb carcasses, 4700 hamburger rolls, 400 loaves of bread, 724 pies, 42 dozen sausage rolls, 900 salad rolls and one tonne of chips.
“We filled 336 shifts with volunteers – we had at least 40 people on every shift and three shifts a day,’’ Mrs Klemke said.
“The money raised will go directly to the school for sports equipment, technology, library and mathematic resources.
“It is a big testament to the heart of our school community – it was a great vibe in our shed and now we are all exhausted.’’