Over 1,000 new tractors sold so far in 2018; who bought the most?

A total of 1,031 new tractors were registered during the January-to-May period of this year (in the Republic of Ireland).

This is 6% down on the same period of last year.

The latest registration statistics issued by the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA) show that, while registrations of new tractors continue to lag somewhat behind the levels achieved in the same period of 2017, registrations of new telescopic loaders continue at the “significant levels seen in recent years”.

It is notable though that, in a repeat of last year’s tractor registration pattern, the year started with a considerable drop which has recovered as time moves on.

The three counties with the highest levels of registrations (to the end of May) are Cork (151 units), Tipperary (89 units) and Wexford (86 units).

The trend towards higher-horsepower tractors continues. Almost 90% of new (registered) tractors had more than 100hp. 56% had more than 120hp.

The FTMTA points out that the trend towards higher-powered units does have the effect of reducing the overall number of tractors sold. It contends that the farm machinery industry “supplies horsepower to its customer base rather than units”.

Another factor that has undoubtedly reduced demand for new tractors over the years has been the adoption (by some farmers) of telescopic handlers and/or loading shovels.

Telehandler registrations have enjoyed a strong recovery in recent years; slightly over 300 units were registered in each of 2017 and 2016.

The final outcome for 2018 looks likely to be even higher; 203 units have already been registered during the first five months of this year. That’s a 22% increase on the same period of 2017.

While many of these machines are no doubt engaged in construction activity, there is a clear increase in their prevalence in Irish farming too.

FTMTA chief executive Gary Ryan explained: “The latest registration statistics show a tractor market that is recovering somewhat, as the year moves on.

“When taking telehandler and loader registrations into consideration, the continued investment in the necessary on-farm mechanisation by Irish farmers and contractors is evident.

It is interesting to note that the current annual tractor market of circa 1,800 units probably supplies Irish agriculture with as much or more horsepower as a market of some 6,000 units per year in the early 1960s.