AUSTRALIA is one of the few countries where tractors sales remain buoyant.
Speaking to FMIA delegates in an annual State of the Industry report, Tractor and Machinery Association (TMA) executive officer Richard Lewis said the Australian tractor had been on a steady expansion path for the past 20 years.
"The question is when will sales fall off the proverbial cliff but that's not going to happen," he said.
"The reason is primarily because sales are being driven by low interest rates and lower changeover prices.
"There's a lack of upward price pressure in the United States, for example, because the market is terrible, along with Europe, Asia and New Zealand.
"So Australia is one of the few countries where tractor sales are going good."
Generally the TMA is upbeat about the Australian market with tractor sales enjoying the best run since 2012, with most growth, predictably, in New South Wales, which is coming off a sequence of droughts.
Citing Agriview statistics, Mr Lewis said WA tractor sales, year-to-date to June 2016 totalled 633 units, compared to 597 for the corresponding period in 2015. National figures totalled 5697 (5557, 2015).
Mr Lewis said a breakdown of the WA figures revealed most sales growth in the Midlands districts (24.8 per cent), followed by southern districts (15.4pc) and northern districts (11.9pc).
Interestingly, the 75-150kW (100-200hp) power segment showed most growth, up 15pc in value.
Sales of combine harvesters into WA have slipped over the past 12 months with 218 unit sales for 2015-16 to June compared to 263 for the corresponding period in 2014-15.
According to Mr Lewis, supply for 2016 should be okay up to about 800 units, based on 726 units sold in 2015.
"If the figure goes beyond 800 manufacturers may have trouble supplying," he said. "You can also expect demand to be up for good used headers, especially 1000 hour units."
While year-to-date figures for hay balers was slightly down on last year (105 to 121 units) Mr Lewis expected a big year for hay gear, including rakes, tedders, mowers and conditioners.
"Round hay baler sales should be steady but we're expecting some growth in the large rectangular balers," he said.
Overall baler sales in WA revealed 67 units have been sold over the past 12 months compared with 64 in the corresponding previous period.
The big news was the "enormous market" for out-front mowers.
"Conventional and Zero Turn models could hit record highs over the next 12 months, if there's a good spring," he said.
Year-to-date (January to June) unit sales totalled 3812 compared to the corresponding period last year of 3440.
Full 2015 sales totalled a record 7490 units which is expected to be topped this year.
According to Mr Lewis self-propelled sprayers have hit a plateau with a swing to trailed sprayers in the Eastern States based on price.
While Agriview did not receive sales reports from tillage and seeding manufacturers, Mr Lewis said it was generally agreed the sector was in "good order" with healthy sales for 2016 and growing forward orders for 2017.
In terms of dealerships throughout Australia, Mr Lewis said 94 groups controlled 361 outlets while 328 individuals range a single outlet dealership.
Agriview's managing director Alan Kirsten said for the first time in a very long time, Australia's agriculture sector was being recognised as a key element in Australia's economic make up.
"It is attracting much-needed investment in its infrastructure and those businesses that support the sector," he said.
"Using tractor sales as the litmus test for the health of the industry 2015 was the best year since 1987 and caps off a five year run of 10,000-plus markets which we haven't seen since early to mid-1980s.
"I think you would have to agree that we are experiencing the best of it at the moment and it is hard to see why this cannot continue in the next few years."