The latest figures issued by the Farm Tractor & Machinery Trade Association in relation to registrations of tractors and other types of self-propelled machinery cover the period to the end of April and, unsurprisingly, record a substantial fall off in activity when compared to a year ago.
The ongoing Coronavirus crisis and associated restrictions did not seem to have much impact on the registration of new tractors during March but the wider situation was certainly felt far more acutely in April when registrations of new tractors dropped by 43% during the month in comparison to April, 2019. Last month saw 119 units registered which brings the total for the first four months of the year to 1,015 units, a drop of nearly 8% on last year. The farm machinery trade continues to operate in relation to the supply of parts, service / repair and delivery / installation of machines as essential services in support of farming and while new machines can be delivered it was generally expected that this would be at lower than previously anticipated levels.
Cork, Wexford and Tipperary continue to be the three counties with the highest level of registrations in the first four months of the year; Cork has had 145 units registered and Wexford and Tipperary are separated by only one unit with 68 and 67 units registered respectively.
Slightly in excess of 91% of new tractor registrations during the first four months of the year were of machines with more than 100hp and 60% were of machines with more than 120hp.
Teleporter registrations probably continue to be more heavily impacted by the overall global context with the 50% year on year drop seen in March escalating even more in April when the level of monthly registrations fell to 7 units, a drop of 75% on April 2019. The total number of such machines registered during the January to April period is 196 units, a drop of some 20% on last year. While it is likely that an effectively suspended construction sector is impacting on these numbers, the fact that the NCTS centres have been closed since the end of March is another contributing factor. Most tractors are registered online but an element of teleporter registrations would be done physically at NCTS centres.
Wheeled loader registrations dropped by 5 units in April, as against the same month last year, to record 12 units registered. Despite this drop, such machines have seen total registrations in the first four months, underpinned by good numbers in January and February, increase by 21% on last year to 57 units.
There were no registrations of backhoe loaders during April, leaving the total for the year to date at 19 units, down from 35 in 2019.
As the start of the grass silage season looms, registrations of new self-propelled forage harvesters are gathering pace. A total of 22 such machines had been registered by the end of April. Last year was a bumper one for foragers with nearly 60 new machines registered and it is to be expected that numbers will fall this year. It is interesting to note however that the current level of registrations is the same as the total number for the full year of 2012 with more machines still to make their way through the system.
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