A crowd of 55,000 flocked to the 2019 Henty Machinery Field Days to inspect the “agribusiness supermarket”, showcased by 830 exhibitors across the 105 hectares.
Held on September 17-19, the 56th 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, tillage, compact tractors 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.
HMFD chairman Nigel Scheetz said crowds were above expectations considering a difficult season right across the state.
“There was a lot of interest shown in livestock feeding machinery, hay making equipment, sheep handling equipment and there is still an element of farmers with an annual program in place for cropping machinery,” Mr Scheetz said.
“There were some sales of seeding equipment, in particular a Bourgault disc seeder was sold on the day, and strong inquiry from north-eastern Victoria for the smaller 150hp tractor range.”
Mr Scheetz said HMFD hosted 33 farmers from the Southern Nyngan Agricultural Group over two days.
“These people have had three years of back-to-back dry periods with no cropping, they are doing it quite tough and our hearts go out to them as well as those right through to the Queensland border,” he said.
“A lot of people still wanted to tie up the dogs for the day, put the fencing gear away and come to have a day out with their mates.
“Inquiry was good for exhibitors, and foot traffic was quite heavy Wednesday and Thursday with a lot of genuine smaller items sold.
“We also had the Australian release of the CLAAS LEXION 8000 combine and the Kuhn SB 1290 iD baler.”
The field days were officially opened on Tuesday, September 17 by AgriFutures Australia chair Kay Hull.
A highlight of this year was the coveted Henty Machine of the Year Award being presented to Bruce and Heath Hutcheon, Coolamon Chaser Bins, Coolamon, NSW, for the Spreader Chaser. Highly commended was the Spin-A-Calf from David Hicks, Offsider Ag Equipment, Killarney, Queensland.
In other awards, the CRF SUPA Bin 42000 from Clear Ridge Farbrication, West Wyalong, NSW, won the Greater Hume Council Award for the best new Australian designed and built agricultural machine.
Wagga grain handling equipment manufacturer Grainline won the award for the Best Large General Outdoor Site and Rabobank won the Best Large Commercial Site.
Jindera’s Jodie Takle, Jo & Co, won the Best Indoor Country Lifestyle site and the Perry family won the Best Indoor Farm Gate site for White Owl/Valentine’s Bakehouse/Olive Hills Estate.
Henty’s largest exhibitor, Hutcheon and Pearce, had a big three days from toys through to large production agricultural machinery.
Managing director Arron Hutcheon said merchandise sales had been strong on the back of the George the Farmer’s live shows.
“There was a good turn out considering the softer season so we are happy,” Mr Hutcheon said.
“We had good inquiry for future seasons on the bigger tractors while the lifestyle segment for us is really growing year-on-year with the gators, lawn mowers and compact tractors.
“There was a lot of interest in our Machine of the Year entry, the John Deere M900i trailed sprayer, and fielded inquiry on the combine harvesters for future seasons but it probably wasn’t the season to sell a harvester from the field day site.
“We had staff from the Albury, Wagga, Temora, Cowra, Griffith, Coleambally and Finley branches here at Henty on different days “Where else can you go to catch up with a large percentage of your clientele in a social setting? – I’ve been coming to Henty for 30 plus years and still get excited every year.”
Bourgault operations manager eastern states Phil Hartley said genuine inquiry had been strong at Henty.
”We’ve had more people 50-70 per cent along their sales journey and we’ve been able to push that information through to give people a clearer picture on their sowing needs,” Mr Hartley said.
“Our new smaller frame-mounted 6m and 8m seeders are causing quite a bit of a stir with good conditions along the Murray River, northern Victoria and South Australia.
“They use all the proven opener technology and metering systems that our larger broadacre gear uses but in a more compact, robust frame.”
Australian Men’s Shed Association men’s health project officer Stuart Torrance was “blown away” with the response by farmers to the free health check-ups.
He said hundreds of check-ups were carried out per day across the field days. “We did blood pressure and body mass index checks using a body spectrum analysing machine, and look at people’s coping skills to ensure their mental health,” he said.
Tasco Petroleum lubricants manager Mark McKenzie said clients had come to Henty from within a three hour radius.
Mr McKenzie said demand was strong for engine, transmission, chain and bar oils. “I thought it might have been a bit more doom and gloom but it has been above our expectations.”
Swagman Tours sales manager Michael McFarlane said there was plenty of interest in the agricultural tours at Henty.
“One thing I’ve learnt with the field days is farmers will come from five to six hours away to check out the machinery and equipment, and contacts to make – it’s great they make that effort,” Mr McFarlane said.
“We make the tours 30 per cent technical and 70 per cent touring, and there is a small tax deduction available.”