Sellers of tractors and farm machinery through the central South Island and the rest of the country enjoyed a good year in 2018, and the trend is expected to continue.

Figures kept by the NZ Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) show there were 4640 retail sales across all horsepower categories throughout the country.

In 2017 the number was 4079 and in a boom dairy year, 2014, the figure was 4062.

Paul Wilkins, of Timaru, said his company had sold more tractors than last year.

Advertisement

''I think a lot of the sectors are doing pretty well.

''The dairy slowed but at the same time sheep and beef have picked up and deer have picked up.''

He said another factor was that some dairy farms had gone to using contractors which meant they expanded their businesses.

''They've bought more plant; large tractors in the 300-horsepower-plus have seen a huge increase.

''It's tailing off a bit now since December.''

The wet weather late last year also made it difficult for some farmers to work the ground with some of their older machinery, which they chose to replace.

''It's all looking positive for the year,'' Mr Wilkins said.

TAMA president John Tulloch also expected the strong sales trend to continue through 2019 unless there was a global event that made a sudden impact.

''Of course, we never know what the weather will throw at us but most of our customers are used to dealing with climate variations, even extreme ones,'' he said.

''We've had a wet season but that could well be followed by a dry season.''

Mr Tulloch said the dairy industry was looking to improve, based on the last four global dairy trade auctions.

A European summer drought and the current Australian drought would also make an impact.

''When global supplies are tight and demand is good then prices have to go up.

''This would be a welcome relief to the industry after recent difficulties for dairying.''

Mr Tulloch thought more dairy farmers, especially those in the South Island, could move to wintering cows inside.

Under-roof wintering caused less damage to pastures and resulted in less effluent run-off. It also boosted the condition of dairy cows.

''As profit returns to dairy we expect that farmers will look at the benefits of wintering inside.

''These cows are in better condition because they don't have to walk in the cold and are fed a more balanced diet rather than just grass.

''A move to inside wintering would be a positive trend for the dairy industry,'' Mr Tulloch said.

''It benefits farmland and surrounding environs as well as ensuring the cows receive good care.

''It requires substantial investment but the benefits are clear.''

-By Chris Tobin
Central Rural Life