A crowd just shy of 60,000 flocked to the 2018 Henty Machinery Field Days to inspect the “agribusiness supermarket’’, showcased by 849 exhibitors across the 105 hectares.
Held on September 18-20, the 55th annual field days featured 14km of outdoor shop fronts on over 1200 sites.
Despite tough seasonal conditions along the eastern seaboard, visitors responded from every state in Australia, seeking out the hot ticket items of hay, fencing and stock handling equipment.
With many regional cereal and oil seed crops due to be cut for hay this week, mowers, rakes and tedders were at the forefront of inquiry and sales.
In support of drought-affected farmers, Grainline, Wagga, auctioned a grain auger at Henty for $22,209 to raise funds for the Rapid Relief Team, Pioneer Water Tanks auctioned a tank for $7000 to donate to the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners and a collectible quilt sold for $1500 with the proceeds going to CWA of NSW for Disaster Relief.
HMFD chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said exhibitor numbers were almost on par with last year and some had increased their site to accommodate larger machinery and equipment.
Mrs Anderson said the dry weather made the event easy to run from a logistical point of view.
She said a final crowd number of 57,000 had generated sales of stock handling, fencing products and water troughs.
“The catering sheds did really well – one exhibitor selling donuts used 50kg of donut flour on the first day on a single stall,’’ she said.
“Most people made it a day to catch up with mates, see the latest technology and plan for when it does recover.’’
The field days were officially opened on Tuesday, September 18 by Mick Keogh, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chairman.
A highlight of this year was the coveted Henty Machine of the Year Award being presented to Simon Schinckel, Naracoorte, South Australia, for the Schinckel Next F Series V-rake.
Highly commended was the Post Straightener from Daryl Irving and Dan Robinson, Mudgee, NSW.
Temora farmer Justin Dunn won the Henty Agri-Innovators Award with The Shepherd auto sheep feeder.
In other awards, the Berrima Multi-Ted 12-6 from Berrima Engineering, Deniliquin, won the Greater Hume Council Award for the best new Australian designed and built agricultural machine.
Henty’s largest exhibitor, Hutcheon & Pearce, won the award for the Best Large Outdoor Site and reported record merchandise sales across the three days.
Sales operations manager Andrew Watt said there was plenty of interest in the tractors, from the compact up to 150 horsepower models, for livestock and dairy applications.
“We made a showcase of our 5 Series family from the two wheel drives under $20,000 to the 5R which has no horsepower loss from the engine through to the PTO,’’ Mr Watt said.
“We have a lot of inquiry to follow up and expect to ink up half a dozen tractors in the next week off the interest at Henty.’’
Mr Watt said a new line of gators plus the ride-on mowers generated buyer interest.
“We didn’t see much negativity at all – everyone was keen to learn about the new models on display, including the self-propelled sprayer in the demo area.’’
Berrima Engineering director Martin Morona, Deniliquin, was kept busy fielding inquiries and orders on his hay rakes and tedders.
“Being so dry, unfortunately the crops aren’t going to make it and people are turning to the other option of making hay,’’ Mr Morona said.
“We have customers with plenty of canola already on the ground.
“It’s not the best way to sell machines but it is the best they can make of a bad situation.’’
Berrima Engineering sold 10 and 12m wide hay rakes off the site at Henty to regional producers.
Burrumbuttock Hay Runners co-ordinator Brendan Farrell said $15,000 had been raised by merchandise sales to support the hay run in January.
“Henty has been a huge success for us this year – the mood is still upbeat,’’ Mr Farrell said.
Pioneer Water Tanks auctioned a 130,000 litre tank at Henty to raise $7000 for the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners.
It was bought by Walbundrie farmer Brian Trethowan, who volunteers on the hay runs himself.
“People are so worried they won’t get much of an income this year so Henty was more of a get together,’’ Mr Trethowan said.
“A lot of people have come out to enjoy the day.’’
Waratah territory sales manager Brent Bourke, Wagga Wagga, reported strong inquiry on exclusion fencing for kangaroos, wild dogs and deer.
“We sold a lot of accessories off the site this year including strainers, wedgelock clamps and gripples,’’ Mr Bourke said.
“This year was very busy and the drought hasn’t affected it – everyone is still positive.
“These types of days are great for people to get out to, especially when it is like the conditions we are facing.’’
When it came to large tillage equipment, McIntosh Distribution sales representative Geoff Anderson, Wagga, reported strong interest on the newly launched Quantum air drill from regional growers.
“We were a bit reserved coming in after AgQuip but the conversations have been positive,’’ Mr Anderson said.
“There were good positive leads on the self-propelled sprayers with contractors and farmers upgrading from trailing sprayers.’’
David Vennings, manager of one of the largest exhibitors and bulk grain handling specialists, Vennings, recorded sales of large augers coupled with inquiry on 22-tonne chaser bins and groupers.
“All in all, it was a good field days for catching up with existing customers and potential new ones,’’ he said.
Mark Lavery, of Marks Spray Barn, Albury, and his staff were nervous coming into the field days but were “blown away’’ by the result.
Mr Lavery said the sales and inquiry were “outstanding’’ on equipment from compressor sprayers right up to self-propelled machines.
“This inquiry came from as far south as Tasmania and north to Nowra,’’ he said.
Speckle Park International president Dale Humphries exhibited his Wattle Grove stud cattle at Henty for the first time and now plans to expand his site next year.
Mr Humphries said solid interest in the cattle came from producers between Tasmania and Rockhampton for joining to British bred and dairy females.
He said field days were a core component of the breed society’s marketing strategy as people look to restock once the season turns around.