New sprayer sales are stronger than ever this year. In response, most of the major manufacturers have launched new models for 2011. (See April issue of Farm Industry News.) We interviewed AGCO, Case IH, Equipment Technologies, GVM, Hagie, John Deere, New Holland, Miller St. Nazianz and Versatile to find out the latest trends in this market. Here are five:
- High-capacity market growing fast. The sprayer market has nearly doubled in size compared to five years ago, with segment above 1,200 gallons growing the fastest, according to Mark Sharitz, director of marketing for AGCO Application Equipment. “A big reason for the rise in sprayer ownership is that many growers are increasing the size of their operations by acquiring and farming more acres, which gives them a real cost-per-acre advantage and more justification for owning a sprayer,” Sharitz says. “There is also a sense of security in knowing that, by owning a sprayer, growers have more control over application timing, what products are applied and application rates.”
- Money driving this year’s market. Manufacturers report that high commodity prices are driving this year’s market. “The 500 pound gorilla is money,” says Jim Williams, Hagie Manufacturing. “Many growers had a good year last year, and many have already started marketing their 2011 crops. They have money to spend.”
- Inventories are stretched. When asked about demand levels, Hagie’s Williams says new orders this year have returned to rates seen in 2007 and 2008, when commodity prices were climbing. “In July 2008 corn was trading for over $7 on the board, and our 2008 model year production was sold out by the end of January,” Williams says. “Our 2011 model year production was close behind, selling out by the second week in February.
- Booms becoming automated. The biggest reported change in sprayers over the past two to four years has been technology. Tim Criddle, director of marketing, Miller St. Nazianz, says precision technologies such as boom height control systems, assisted steering, and automatic boom section control have, in the past two to four years, become “standard must-have” features instead of nice, but unnecessary, options.
- Telemetry driving future. Cory Venable, product manager for John Deere application equipment, says the industry will continue to build on solutions that create a “smart sprayer.” He says technologies such as telematics, wireless communication, data transfer, and machine information sharing will become much more prevalent. “Integrated technologies that allow more acres to be covered in a day will be key,” he says. Work will also be done on making machines apply products more efficiently with less impact on the ground, he adds.