17 Mar 2017

Lift in farmer mood at Central District Fieldays

3:21 pm on 17 March 2017

Farmers' mood at the Central Districts Fieldays is much more optimistic than last year because of a more promising dairy outlook, says International tractor company Case IH.

Its New Zealand operations manager Tim Fanning said figures show tractor sales for the past two months are ten percent higher than a year ago.

Case IH tractors

Case IH tractors. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

He said within the few hours of the Fieldays in Feilding there was a noticable difference compared to last year.

"The mood has changed for sure, so far this year we've noticed a lot more optimism and confidence, things are definitely on the rebound.

"Dairy prices are still fluctuating, there's still a lot of volatility and uncertainty, but the market as a whole is looking in much better shape."

Sale records are also in better shape, Mr Fanning said.

"Every manufacturer reports its numbers to an industry so we can see pretty clearly how the market is performing... we're two months into the year and are already up ten percent on ag tractors, so there's proof in the numbers."

He said interest was coming from dairy, viticulture and horticulture sectors.

Case IH operations manager Tim Fanning infront of a Magnum Rowtrac.

Case IH operations manager Tim Fanning infront of a Magnum Rowtrac. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

"So far at the show here compared to last year there's quite a dramatic lift in enquiry and a lot of quoting going on - it's really good to see."

Over 30,000 people expected at Manfield Park

Brett McMeekin is in charge of organising the Central Districts Fieldays and said they were expecting a big three days.

"First and foremost the heavens have been great to us so we've got great weather which makes an immense difference.

"Thursday is the most interesting day, you get a lot of the farming community and they come in between milking etc, you get lots of kids and grandkids so it's a really fun day. As we gear up towards the weekend more of the general public come."

Brett McMeekin

Brett McMeekin Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

Mr McMeekin said changes to the work safety rules had made it more difficult to run the event.

"Our biggest challenge is cars on site and people. Under the new Health and Safety rules we have to induct them all and they get quite grumpy about it, but its the rules we have to do it so that's the way it is now days."

"We're the biggest regional fieldays, I see this as bringing in new stuff, especially like the innovation zone, which talks about the future for the farming industry."

Kiwi ingenuity on display

There is over 500 exhibitors spread over the Manfield Raceway this year with everything from stock water systems to Fanny Adams underwear.

In the new ASB Innovation Zone is Massey University's agricultural surveillance robot.

Russell Wilson with megatronic graduate students (LtoR) Mitchell Hampton and Tim Sutcliffe.

Russell Wilson with megatronic graduate students (L to R) Mitchell Hampton and Tim Sutcliffe. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

Russell Wilson is the commercialisation and IP manager for Massey University and said the robot can be used by farmers to follow paths on farm, check certain areas and record if needed.

"We're now in a position where we can put remote sensors on that robotic platform and start to gather information around pasture quality and various other measurements that you might routinely start to expect in orchards and farming operations."

He said the robot could be a big time saver for farmers and growers.

"All the primary industries are quite time poor, but yet a lot of routine tasks need to be carried out.

"Often things like pasture measurement can be the first casualty of being time poor, so we're looking to see whether or not we can start to build a platform that has the flexibility to take on more of these routine tasks."