Henty matures into significant global event for agriculture
The largest exhibition space in the history of the event combined with 55,000 visitors helped the Henty Machinery Field Days celebrate 60 years of showcasing the latest in agricultural technology to a global audience.
Community groups throughout the Riverina were also the benefactors of the milestone event with funds raised by the not-for-profit Henty Machinery Field Days to be ploughed back into community social capital and infrastructure.
Held on September 19-21, the 60th annual field days featured 14km of outdoor shop fronts from more than 800 exhibitors representing more than 3500 companies on over 1200 sites.
Farmers and visitors from every state and territory sought out the hot ticket items of compact tractors, hay and silage equipment, tillage, fencing, and grain handling equipment, headers and stock handling equipment.
HMFD chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said the event had showcased over $200 million in agricultural machinery, quantifying the event had matured into the nation’s leading field days.
“We have had 55,000 visitors across the three days with the bulk of those attending on Wednesday,” Mrs Anderson said.
She said the largest exhibition area in history combined with strong crowd numbers represented a massive economic injection to the local, regional and national economy.
“The growth of this event post covid has ensured its future. The team at HMFD continue to develop the event with showcasing agriculture as its primary objective.”
Mrs Anderson said HMFD hosted a trade delegation from the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership including a High Commission of Canada representative.
The delegates were actively looking to explore mutual business opportunities in agricultural machinery and agtech.
Mrs Anderson launched an 84-page coffee table style book on the 60-year history of the event.
The field days were officially opened on September 19 by Kotzur Managing Director Andrew Kotzur, of Walla Walla, also marking 60 years since his family company first exhibited at the event in 1963 at the Henty showground.
Bryson Terlich, Table Top, Barry Scholz, Henty, Neil Bahr, Henty, and Kerry Piestch, Pleasant Hills, all served as HMFD Cooperative members, directors and volunteers since the first field days in 1963, and cut the 60thanniversary cake.
The four men have given a combined total of 240 years of voluntary work to the field days across six decades.
A highlight of this year was the coveted Henty Machine of the Year Award being presented to the GUSS autonomous orchard sprayer entered by Hutcheon and Pearce.
Highly commended was The Shepherd Feedlot Auto Drafter entered by Justin Dunn, of Temora.
In other awards, FarmTech, Wodonga, won the Greater Hume Council Award for the best new Australian designed and built agricultural machine for the Ausmix XL26 Fibrex 26-cube feed mixer.
Australasian reseller of industry-leading farming machinery including tractors and harvesters, CLAAS Harvest Centre, Wagga Wagga, won the award for the Best Large Commercial and Australian Defence Force Careers took out the Best Outdoor General.
Graphic designer and children’s book illustrator Sarah Hardy is a new exhibitor but won the Best Indoor site in Country Lifestyle with her business Popcorn Blue.
Bec Macdougall and her premium specialty coffee business Emme Mac Black was awarded Best Indoor Site at Farm Gate Produce Market.
New this year was the TEKFARM Agritech Innovation Awards held in partnership with Farmers2Fouders and open to tertiary and university students, farmers, backyard tinkerers and innovators from any state.
Henty farmer Daniel Klemke received the Innovative Producer Award for his Safe-Cut, Nick Seymour, Farmo, won the Agtech Innovation of the Year with the Water Rat, Hamish Munro, Pairtree, received the Emerging AgTech Innovation of the Year, and Jess Bikaum, Bee Buddy, was the Female Innovator of the Year.
Vintage machinery was to the fore this year with a display of five of the world’s rarest tractors, the Australian designed and built Upton, with owners bringing their machines from Mudgee, Swan Hill, Ardlethan, Corowa and Albury for the one-off event. The design and manufacturing staff from the 1970s also attended.
The Henty and District Antique Farm Machinery Club also celebrated the centenary of the Farmall tractor and Howard rotary hoe production.
Henty was a platform for the debut to the Australian market of the JBS Manure Spreader and the CLAAS Torion range while Telstra unveiled a new mobile base station.
Compact tractors and machinery for lifestyle blocks were in strong demand this year but exhibitors say rain in coming weeks could build on the inquiry for broadacre harvesting machinery, grain handling equipment and hay/silage machinery.
Landpower Australia National Sales and Operations Manager – Australia, Paul Birbeck, said there had been strong inquiry despite farmers waiting for a good rainfall.
“We had some interest on hay and bigger seeding and tillage equipment with a lot of people getting their prices together on machines,” Mr Birbeck said.
Case IH Regional Sales Manager Norm Bradshaw said the burst of hot weather earlier in the week may have put a dampener on some crops.
“If we can get a rain going into October, there will be a lot of happy people around for sure,” he said.
Hutcheon and Pearce Sales and Marketing Manager Andrew Watt said rain over the next month could bring to fruition strong enquiry received at the field days.
“The crops around Henty have been holding up strongly – another drink in the next four to six weeks will hopefully see the crops fill. Henty was a good event and a great celebration of 70 years for the company,” Mr Watt said.
HMFD is set to host the 61st field days on September 17-19, 2024 with planning already underway.