Last year saw a the welcome return to a strong tractor market according to figures recently released by the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA).

In total, there were 2,366 tractors sold into the Republic of Ireland, 456 more than 2021, which represents a 24% increase.

Modernising the tractor fleet

Even more cheering to the association’s members is that not only has there been a decisive recovery from last year, but the 2021 total is a rise of 412 machines over the average of the past three years.

This would indicate that farmers are out to renew the national tractor fleet with a marked degree of enthusiasm.

Tractor manufacturers strong market
Premium brands have benefitted from strong commodity prices

The reason for this confidence is very likely to be the firm commodity prices and it is forecast for them to remain so for the rest of this year, despite the slight dip in wheat earlier this month.

Strong steel prices increase costs

The increase in prices due to material cost inflation is not deterring purchasing in 2022, with some manufacturers saying that they have sold all their planned production for this year.

However, there is a suggestion that the growing disparity in price increases across all industries is highly dependent on the semiconductor content of the product.

 Last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis issued a report which estimated that those industries highly dependent on semiconductor content showed a 4% greater increase in prices than a group which did not.

Semiconductor dependent strong
The cost of a tractor is more dependent on the price of steel than it is electronic chips

Thankfully, the value of the chip content within tractors is a minor part of the cost of manufacture despite their dependence upon them; therefore, claims that significant price increases due to chip shortage may be somewhat misleading.

On the plus side, the steel price has dropped from the record peak of last May when it was trading at CNY 5,950/t, it then fell back to a low of CYN 4,300 in the autumn before stabilising around its current price of CYN 4,700.

There was a great deal of concern in the trade last summer that the excessive price would adversely effect sales. It has eased since then, although demand is still strong and remains at an elevated level, albeit at a price that is far easier to manage.

Popular power band

The most popular power segment still remains the 101-140hp section with 50%, or 1,170 tractors sold at this level.

This does not mean to say that farmers are shy of buying bigger machines, as 57 of the tractors sold were over 241hp – four of those being in excess of 321hp.

2020 loader sales by brand

The FTMTA has also released the results for the various companies operating in the materials handling market for 2020, although the figures do not differentiate between the construction and agricultural sectors.

Kramer machines loader
Kramer sold 26 telescopic loaders into Ireland in 2020

389 telescopic handlers were sold into Ireland in 2020, 44% of them being made by Manitou. JCB came next with 23% and Weidemann at 8%.

Kramer appeared to be enjoying the fruits of its tie in with John Deere selling 26 machines, or 7% of the market. Claas, Merlo and Schaffer all took around 3% of sales apiece.

Wheeled loaders saw a more even spread of sales between the various manufacturers. The outright winner was JCB which supplied 16% of the 135 sold, while Volvo came second with 12%.

JCB wheeled loader
JCB came top of the heap in 220 selling 21 wheeled loaders

New Holland sold nine machines which was one up on Komatsu, giving them 7% and 6% of the total respectively.

Neither Case nor Caterpillar are recorded as selling any wheeled loaders, while 60% went to “other makes”, reflecting the large number of brands that are available in Ireland.