With international travel back on the agenda, FarmShop Director, Mike took the opportunity in January 2023 to visit key global partners who are supplying FarmShop with leading-edge machinery and farm essentials, along with potential new agencies.
As Northland’s biggest farm machinery yard, we have a responsibility to nurture relationships with suppliers abroad and ensure stock certainty in a challenging market – that’s how we will stay on the shopping list for anyone considering farm machinery.
To achieve our goal of maximising farm yields for customers, we need to be among the action – scoping out machinery to customise for NZ conditions. The pandemic put the brakes on travel, so it’s great to be out there again, representing Kiwi farmers and contractors and staying aware of the latest offerings to improve their livelihoods.
Here is a brief overview of the trip highlights:
HOLLAND – Struik, New Partnership for Kumara Growers.
Mike visited a potential machinery partner to support our kumara growers. This well-established organisation in South Holland are experts at Finger Tine Cultivators and have been operating for more than 80 years. An exclusive agency agreement has now been secured and we are excited to welcome Struik to the fold.
Struik’s cultivators & mechanical weed control implements will allow growers to break ground earlier in the season with less lumps and a finer tilth – all leading to productivity gains. The mechanical weed control implements boast advanced tech and will be suitable for a range of crops from potatoes, kumara, to peonies. The advantage here is the fingers don’t leave a pan – which enables a better soil structure for crops.
Originally, the company was set up to reclaim difficult land in South Holland. With waterlogged and poor soil conditions, the land required robust machinery to facilitate drainage and so on.
NETHERLANDS – Peecon (Peeters Group)
Peeters Group have been producing innovative and competitively priced agriculture machinery since 1973. Our partnership includes direct imports of their Peecon Feed Mixers, including the Topliner and Biga Eco Future Series.
It was great to see their production facility commissioned in 2018, it includes the latest technologies in laser cutting and robotic metal fabrication and welding. Peecon have a dedicated line for their mixer wagons spanning 16-30m3. Every stage is automated, right down to the painting booth which fits an entire mixer wagon.
The new Topliner 16-30 cube model series have a keen price point, so do not delay your interest.
The factory team reported soft demand through 2022 but are now at capacity for 2023, with lead times at 8 weeks plus freight. The factory is busy! Energy and steel prices have levelled out (or in some cases decreased) which is great news for us all.
POLAND - SaMASZ Mowers
SaMASZ supply over 50 markets worldwide with FarmShop securing the agency in 2019. Their facilities are cutting-edge, spanning 2.5 hectares and employing 1000+ workers.
Based in Northern Poland, about 84kms from the Belarus border, it was sobering to see trucks carrying army tanks heading towards Ukraine. It was snowing when Mike visited the SaMASZ facilities, and what a welcome - a poor gentleman had hit the ice and gone through the front gates!
Despite FarmShop being a modest customer, SaMASZ respect that our conditions are some of the toughest in the world. From steel arriving and loaded onto racks, through to the well-advanced stages of production, what stands out is how important ‘co-creation’ is for SaMASZ – i.e. listening to customers and modifying their machinery for better performance and operator satisfaction.
During our partnership, several enhancements have been made to the range of SaMASZ Mowers, including greater stone protection for the South Island market, a superior/secure knife pin holder, pitched blades for a cleaner cut, fine-tuning the hydropneumatic sensors for better suspension in all terrain, and improved self-cleaning features on all 2023 models.
New developments for 2023 include a 12L Trailed Tedder, 10.5m Rotor Rake, and a 12m Grouper Gatherer which is a new concept for raking - suitable for flat conditions. In testing phase now, it’s looking impressive.
SaMASZ report the European machinery market is strong and the factory is at capacity for orders. FarmShop have been encouraged to make indent orders ASAP to secure arrival for the 2024 season.
POLAND - Tractor Attachment Producer (FarmMax)
Based in Poland, this innovative organisation are responsible for custom-producing our FarmMax Front-End Loader Attachments e.g. Landplanes, Bale Grabs and so on. It was great to reconnect with the team and see the development a new Log Grab for NZ. This clever implement will open perfectly for a standard bundle of NZ posts, 12-wide.
Also coming soon is the latest De-CRAP-it implement, which does just that… designed to keep feed pads clean while saving water too.
IRELAND – Air Seeder Producer (FarmMax Air Seeder)
A visit to Ireland would not be complete without calling on our FarmMax Air Seeder partner based in Kildare, Ireland.
The owners are two brothers with a dairy farming background who have channelled their passion for engineering into farm machinery. Over two decades they have been making refinements to their products and it was great to see their new production facility.
IRELAND – Cashels Trailers
Next up, Mike went to Belfast to visit Cashels our 8 & 10 tonne Farm Trailer partner.
Cashels reported healthy demand for trailer production, steel prices have come down slightly and they anticipate the market to level and inflation to plateau – all strong indicators for the season ahead.
We’re also close to welcoming a new Cashels Bale Cutter & Film Catcher which is competitively priced and carries a patent for its film catcher. The unique shape of the film catcher ensures the claw-like method cuts in half and catches the film and net every time – regardless of the bale shape or density.
ITALY - Fischer Mowers
Next up was a tour of Fischer’s new 8,000sqm facility in Northern Italy. From laser and plasma cutters to robotic bending and welding of steel, the production line is cutting-edge. We have been Fischer’s NZ sales partner since 2019 and the tour was a reminder of how confident we are in their mower performance and overall customer service.
It was a good chance to check some of the modifications and new products underway for our NZ customers, including adapting the SL3 Mower’s ability to manually adjust the side inter-row mowing head - welcome news for kiwifruit growers.
Fischer are in the process of modifying the Expandable Mowers from 1.7m to 2.4m for vineyards in the Marlborough region. They will include a hay mower ‘fling-tip quick-change’ blade system, so mowing can be performed at speeds of 15-20kms/hour for greater time savings and fuel efficiencies, plus the side delivery provides plants with mulch while leaving a clean, tidy job. The expandable deck is a big timesaving benefit for mowing the headlands and caters for different row widths across vineyards.
Mike also took the opportunity to examine Fischer’s weeder and inter-row cultivation options. There were several machines being manufactured for the USA and North American markets – many with compatible features for NZ, so we’ll keep our finger on the pulse here.
ITALY – Carlotti
Since 1956, Carlotti have been specialists in sweet potato harvesters.
FarmShop recently held a gear demo day in Dargaville, Northland, where we unveiled a new Carlotti Kumara Harvester - a first for NZ growers. Straight off Carlotti’s production line to an enthusiastic audience of local growers, our partnership with Carlotti is a truly collaborative experience.
The new harvester will be going into the ground in late March 2023 and we’ll be seeking grower’s feedback once it has been trialled in field.
Carlotti continue to take feedback directly from our kumara growing community to modify and edit their machinery to suit. Unlike American sweet potato, our kumara has more sensitive skin and requires a unique set-up.
To conclude the tour, Mike was shown a sweet potato harvester for the French market, the largest Carlotti have ever produced (about 20m long) with a 6m double-sided platform. Harvesting just got a whole lot quicker with that beast!
UNITED KINGDOM - Agri-Linc
A visit to Agri-Linc was a chance to bounce around ideas with like-minded industry peers.
Agri-Linc sell new and used agricultural machinery from their base in Thaxted, Essex. Some of the new products they shared included low loader trailers to support farmers with diggers. They also had a good range of tillage gear.
A big strategy for this business was streamlining their trades via WhatsApp to remove the effort of sales reps physically inspecting gear. All items are assessed via video links and pics. The benefit of virtual visits meant they could increase trade volumes and be more cost effective. Currently they have a customer base of 60,000 and have developed their own Trade Me style platform. The process works well, with 11 full time engineers doing refurbs and general workshop tasks.
In closing, what an exciting time for FarmShop customers! The agricultural machinery market feels solid, with European factories enjoying a leveling out of steel prices, incredible robotic advances and strong demand. Best still, our global partners have our back - respecting FarmShop’s goal to maximise farm yields at every turn.