British farmers are estimated to have spent of the order of £1.9 billion on farm equipment in 2013 and a similar level of expenditure in 2014 looks likely.

Tractors are generally the best indicator of activity and 6,942 units of over 50 hp were registered in the first 6 months of 2014, an increase of 4% on the previous year. The average power has continued to move up, to 151.6 hp this year.

The next major sub-sector of the market is the combine harvester; retail sales have been on a par with the last seasonal year (September to August) and may yet near 800 units, which would represent a small increase.

Another major sector in terms of machine value is the self-propelled forage harvester, retail sales of which may slightly exceed 150 units in the seasonal year, which again would be a marginal increase on a year earlier. The grass forage season has been quite mixed with some heavy crops but the quality has not always been of the best.

Other machine types are covered by wholesale data, that is deliveries to dealers, and generally arable equipment has seen lower units moved with exceptions such as ploughs which have seen some interest in combating blackgrass. Falling grain prices have sapped some confidence in the arable sector this year but sales remain reasonable.

For grassland equipment there has been demand for mowers, trailed precision foragers and some rakes but the numbers of round balers were static and the call for big balers was limited.

After a poor year in 2013 the demand for sprayers has picked up somewhat.

All sectors of farming have concerns. Crop prices have fallen well below budget and in some cases below costs of production; it remains to be seen the extent to which better yields could offset this. Beef and sheep prices have steadily declined in the face of good supply and restricted demand. The milk sector has been buoyant and still is the best placed farm sector but even here liquid prices have been falling. On the positive side many input costs have been subdued and some important elements such as fertilisers are below last year’s levels. For farmers considering substantial investment the Annual Investment Allowances are at a very generous level and may generate some machinery sales.

At this time the expectations for the second half year are for a relatively static market.