Meeting farmers' hunger for new technology

Responding: Hugh McEachern says there's a real hunger for new agricultural technology among 'time-poor' farmers. Picture: Rob Gunstone
Responding: Hugh McEachern says there's a real hunger for new agricultural technology among 'time-poor' farmers. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Hugh McEachern says the changes he had seen in agricultural technology in just the past five years are “unbelievable.”

The dealer principal of the Agrimac group of the western Victorian agricultural machinery dealerships said there was a real hunger for new technology by “time poor” farmers.

Many farmers did not employ farm workers and agricultural machinery was getting bigger as farmers sought to do more with it, Mr McEachern said.

The Agrimac branches in Warrnmabool, Ballarat, Hamilton and St Arnaud allow him to see the changes in demand for agricultural machinery for a broad swathe of farm enterprises from dairy to livestock production and cropping.

He said bigger agricultural machines enabled farmers to respond quicker if the vagaries of the seasons only allowed them brief windows of opportunity to sow or reap. 

“All farmers want to produce more on less.

“They want to produce more milk off the same amount of land or less land.

“They want to produce more cereals,” Mr McEachern said.

That meant farmers were demanding of their machinery.

He said he had never thought when he started selling agricultural machinery in 2000 that he would see tractors with more than 300 horsepower.

Now they were not uncommon.

“The average size when I started was 80 horsepower. Now it’s 180 horsepower,” Mr McEachern said.

The built quality of agricultural machinery had also improved, he said.

“People can hold on to their gear with confidence,” Mr McEachern said.

However the south-west still had some “hard country” that took its toll on machines, he said. 

Mr McEachern said precision agriculture technology was also becoming more popular among farmers and had been taken up as quickly as iPhones had been among the general population.

Mr McEachern is well-acquainted with farm machinery trends, also running his family’s “Injemira” farm at Grassmere near Warrnambool.

He runs about 2000 ewes primarily for lamb production along with 300 beef cattle on “Injemira.”  

He said he bought the Warrnambool Agricultural business in 2000 to start Agrimac because he wanted a challenge and to prove himself in another area apart from farming.

He also enjoyed working with people, he said.

At Agrimac, he has undertaken an ongoing expansion program.

That expansion continues this year with Agrimac’s plans to move to a new site in Ballarat.

The company has bought three hectares of land in the Ballarat West Employment Zone, located west of the Ballarat Ring Road and Learmonth Road, on which to build new premises.

The new location will replace Agrimac’s current Ballarat premises at the corner of Learmonth and Ring roads in Wendouree.

Construction is due to start in a few weeks and will create a purpose-built modern premises with all the latest facilities not only for machinery sales but also for employees.

“We need good employees and good employees demand a nice environment,” Mr McEachern said.

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