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Industry Facts

On this page you can find some key facts about the UK markets for farm equipment and outdoor power equipment, along with information about exports of agricultural engineering products from the UK.

Farm Equipment

As the name suggests, the farm equipment industry provides a range of machinery used by farmers. AEA members primarily supply equipment for use in the field, typically either to support the growing of crops or for the management of grassland and other fodder crops to feed animals.

The AEA estimates that the value of sales of agricultural machinery in the UK reached around £2.2 billion in 2021. That is almost 20% higher than in 2020 and more than 10% up on the previous record high reached in 2019. The year-on-year increase was partly driven by a recovery in the number of machines sold across most categories, following a decline in 2020 due to Covid-19, poor farm finances and Brexit uncertainty. On top of this, average values rose during the year, due to a combination of the steady increase in the size/power of machinery and to rising prices, driven by higher input costs.

The table below covers some of the main categories of equipment and shows the estimated size of the UK market for new equipment, in terms of the number of units delivered annually. Figures for tractors are based on registrations for road use. More details of tractor registrations can be found on the Tractor Statistics page.

Size of UK farm equipment market (number of units)

Calendar year5-year average
2016-2020
20202021% change
2020-2021
2021 % diff from
5-year average
Agricultural tractors (over 50hp)11,49010,38012,017+16+5
 Telehandlers3,225
3,0003,750+25+16
Tractor loaders3,3402,9803,990+34+19
Ploughs650550660+20+2
Power harrows9308401020+21+10
Sprayers760605530-12-30
Utility ATVs7,3907,5007,100-5-4
Utility vehicles (side x sides)6,2005,8005,800=-7
Mowers/mower conditoners2,8952,6003,000+15+4
Seasonal year5-season
average
15/16 - 19/20
2019/202020/21% change
19/20-20/21
2020/21 diff from
5-year average
Combines546515525+2-4
Self propelled foragers
164157173+10+5
Round balers9809301000+8+2
Big square balers
215185260+41+21

Outdoor Power Equipment

The total domestic market for outdoor power equipment has been estimated at around £780 million in 2019, up 4% from the previous year. Figures for the value of the market in 2020 are not yet available.

As all other sectors, the OPE industry had to deal with serious challenges in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Undoubtedly the most significant of these occurred in early spring, at the height of the grass growing season, with the announcement of the first UK lockdown. Government instructions to work from home if possible, and ideal spring weather conditions drew many homeowners to their gardens. At the same time service dealers had to close their show rooms and repair shops. The industry rose to the challenge with manufacturers keeping factories in operation adhering to health and safety restrictions, and many dealers increasing their online presence, order & collect, and delivery facilities to satisfy customer demand. By the end of May most dealers had modified their premises and could trade with social distancing measures in place. The weather in the summer months supported grass growth, and as the UK emerged from the lockdown and the economy restarted, the impact on commercial sales eased.

Despite the upturn of lawnmower sales after April, it was not sufficient to match the sales of the previous year. The market volume for lawncare overall is expected to have been 4% smaller than in 2019. Sales of handheld powered garden tools benefitted from the increased consumer focus on their outdoor space, with 15% year on year growth recorded, with much of the increase coming from cordless units. The commercial side of our industry suffered the most, with golf and other sports facilities closed for long periods as well as local authorities redirecting their staff and efforts to support combating the pandemic. AEA surveys showed that sales declined by a quarter in comparison to 2019.

Exports and Imports

Latest figures from HMRC show that UK exports of agricultural engineering equipment were worth nearly £1.7 billion in 2021, 3% higher than in 2020. Shipments were substantially lower in the opening two months of the year, due to a combination of renewed Covid-19 lockdowns and traders avoiding possible disruptions in the early stages of the implementation of the Brexit trade deal. However, they quickly bounced back and were particularly strong in the second quarter. Thereafter, trade slowed again, as supply chain disruptions limited the availability of machinery for export.

As usual, tractors (and tractor engines) made up around two-thirds of total exports by value. Tractor exports were little changed from 2020, with solid growth in the first half of the year offset by lower shipments in the second half. In contrast, exports of other agricultural equipment remained strong throughout the year, with growth of 9% overall and only a slight slowdown in the final six months of the year.

Although exports were up by 3% overall, shipments to the EU were down by 7%, while those to non-EU countries rose by 21%. That meant the EU’s share of total machinery exports fell from 65% in 2020 to 59% in 2021. Within the EU, though, there was strong growth in exports to Eastern Member States (those which joined the EU in 2004 or later), which were up by over 80%, compared with 2020, while shipments to the rest of the EU were down 17%. Much of the overall slowdown was due to sharply lower exports to Ireland, with a 44% fall overall.

Imports also slowed in the second half of 2021, as supply chain challenges bit. In the opening six months of the year, imports were up by more than a quarter, as strong demand drove shipments. There was little sign of a post-Brexit dip but there was something of a slowdown in the autumn, as supply chain constraints affected availability of machines.

UK imports and exports of agricultural engineering products

 ExportsImports
Product categoryValue (£ million, 2021)Change 2020-21Value (£ million, 2021) Change 2020-21
Tractors950.8+0%681.1+8%
Mowers for lawns, parks and sport grounds146.5+0%248.7+17%
Harvesting and threshing machinery194.7+9%503.1+21%
Soil preparation and cultivation machinery93.4+12%198.9+15%
Engines for tractors59.1-19%23.8-17%
Other agricultural and forestry machinery 217.4+16%234.6+15%
Other outdoor power equipment4.3-46%106.0+19%
Total1,666.3+3%1,996. 2+14%

Source: Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs
Please note that all the figures in this section exclude some categories of machinery which the data do not allow to be separately identified (e.g. ATVs, telehandlers).