WITH no major machinery field days being held this year, because of COVID-19, a group of nine companies decided to hold its own 'Ag Roadshow' field days.
It kicked off last week with events at Borden and Munglinup and finished this week at Wyalkatchem and Wickepin.
According to one of the organisers, Duraquip director Rodney Richardson, Gnowangerup, it was a concept he and his fellow company directors had been assessing for several years.
"The idea was to target smaller communities who rarely have the opportunity to stage such events showcasing quality products," Mr Richardson said.
'It also gave us the opportunity to communicate with a smaller audience with a more focused one-on-one approach.
"At the big field days you can't do every enquiry justice because of the sheer number of people.
"This is more low key with the benefit that it can help act as a fundraiser for communities and the response we got has been fantastic."
Himac sales manager Jack McPhee, who also helped organise the roadshow, said it was evident from conversations with several companies that people were keen to participate.
"We liked the idea of going to smaller towns and everybody agreed it would also help local communities," Mr McPhee said.
That was underscored at Borden, a town which no longer has a football club but has a positive attitude to its survival in an era where diminishing farming families are impacting on the health of many country towns.
Ironically the Borden Football Club was officially wound up last Wednesday, the day after the roadshow, but past players John Pither who was club treasurer, and Wayne Davis, who was a major sponsor through his 4Farmers agency, remain positive for the town.
"We've still got the tavern and that's the social hub," Mr Davis said.
"We were paying half the team in the end and losing players to higher bids from competing clubs.
"I've got two boys but they're in Perth and we just haven't got the youth here.
"But that hopefully will change over the next 15 years with the local primary school boasting 29 students."
Exhibitors said the roadshow was a positive move with all companies having follow-up enquiry.
According to Himac sales manager Jack McPhee, the company was preparing for a major slowdown when COVID-19 hit WA.
"It never came," Mr McPhee said.
"In fact we got busier and the government stimulus package put everything back on track.
"We're flat out shifting multiple pallets a day from earthmoving gear to ag equipment like rakes, attachments for telehandlers, pallet forks, buckets and skid-steer attachments - all made in our Albany factory.
"We're after more staff, particularly boiler makers became of demand for our products not only in WA, but in all States."
Company general manager Alistair Richardson showcased the new Lube Caddy 250-2 during the roadshow, reflecting increased interest by farmers in high-ttech servicing equipment.
"Our main business is supplying hydraulic hoses and fittings to other manufacturers, but we also can supply the latest in servicing equipment and it's a cost-cutting avenue for farmers to have the right equipment on the farm when they need it to minimise downtime," Mr Richardson said.
"The Lube Caddy, which is made in Italy, is designed to pump waste oil out and pump new oil in and we're getting plenty of interest from farmers with big machinery inventories.
"And because we are importers we can sell directly which brings the cost of these types of machines into an affordable bracket, which previously was not the case."
Since introducing the Tornado belly dump trailer to the WA market in 2006, Gnowangerup manufacturer Duraquip has gone from strength to strength.
"Our first owner is still using his Tornado and it doesn't surprise us because as former farmers we knew what we wanted to build," said company director Rodney Richardson.
"The Tornado is extremely low maintenance which is why we made it after being frustrated operating inadequately built equipment."
According to Mr Richardson, the increasing popularity of the Tornado was reflected by increasing on-farm safety standards, particularly chain of responsibility legislation.
"Because it's a belly dumper, there's no tipping so you've eliminated one hazard and it's a one-person operation," he said.
The company's new Seed Storm seeding bar is also displayed at most of the events and Mr Richardson said the response has been "overwhelming".
"We've still got some factory build slots for guaranteed before-seeding delivery," he said.
Gnowangerup concrete manufacturers Cast-Tech Group displayed its new concrete toilet which can be made in multiple units.
It is completely self-contained with its own concrete pad and can be delivered and set up by Cast-Tech.
"It's an ideal permanent structure for farms not only with big workforces but also to cater for increased staff during peak times of the year like seeding and harvesting," said company director Alvin Sprigg said.
"And there is little site works required.
"We also do pre-cast work on-farm with a mobile batch plant, meaning we can mix concrete, pour and screed it to establish pads for sheds and silos."
Rapor is an Albany-based family-owned company specialising in plant and machinery hire.
The company started up in 2018 and within a short space of time tapped into a market requiring tractors, excavators, loaders, dozers and other equipment.
All equipment is available on a dry or wet hire basis and company director Charles Hill said business growth reflected the positive tone in agriculture.
"COVID-19 doesn't seem to have had much affect in the country and we've seen plenty of business opportunities," Mr Hill said.
One of the more interesting is blue gum and pine plantation reversion as farmers and corporates move to revert the plantations back to cropping and grazing.
"We supply equipment for stump removal and land clearing, which can include offset discs, deep rippers and even Reefinating," he said.
Cunderdin-based Grain King displayed its Nyrex Maximus field bin which is basically a dual axle mother bin with a capacity of 140 tonnes.
"We also released a 220 tonne model which is one of the biggest in the market and it was sold to an Esperance farmer," said company director Martin Trewarn.
Unfortunately for farmers, they will have to wait until 2021 to secure a model.
"We sold out two months ago," Mr Trewarn said.
"We haven't experienced that for a long time, but I think the government's asset write-down incentive pushed orders along."
Mr Trewarn said the company also had met strong demand for its new Nyrex chaser bins with load cells.
"The popular models are the 32 and 37 tonners," he said.
Dalwallinu-based manufacturer Coerco has come a long way since it started making water tanks in 1993.
Today it has a staff of 96, a Statewide distributor network and a range of products including water tanks, water troughs, livestock products, liquid fertiliser storage and cartage, diesel storage and cartage and firefighting equipment.
"We are certified to global management standard ISO9001:2015," said company sales director Micah Jackson.
"So we can create our own virgin polymer material in-house, which means that we have internal quality control to ensure consistent quality products from start to finish.
"We also have a fleet of 12 trucks so we can quickly respond to farmers' needs."
Building the Katanning saleyards is not a bad addition to a company's CV and it is one that Auspan director Steve Richardson, Gnowangerup, points to with pride.
"We started in 2009 and since then have built more than 1000 sheds throughout the Wheatbelt, all of which were custom-made," Mr Richardson said.
"But the Katanning saleyards has been our biggest project so far with 44,000 square metres undercover, making it the biggest undercover area of its kind in the southern hemisphere."
The family-owned Auspan, headquartered in Gnowangerup, now has offices in Albany and Perth and, according to Mr Richardson, is "flat out" on the back of the government's asset write-down incentives which have been extended to December.
There have been many changing trends since the start of COVID-19 this year and one was highlighted by Commander AgQuip salesman Hamish Jackson who is "supporting local".
"I think we've seen a bigger trend to supporting WA manufacturers this year and maybe government tax incentives have played a part, but there's no doubt farmers are supporting local a lot more," Mr Jackson said.
"We mainly sell augers and sheep handling equipment and I think farmers appreciate our efforts to use Australian-made steel and Australian suppliers and make our products in Albany.
"So we're not far away to handle any queries and our service and back-up support is a phone call away."
Commander Ag-Quip can still supply augers for this harvest but the window of opportunity will close within the next two weeks.