The last three years have been severe for Australian farmers as a whole. Recovering and restoring business after the bush fire season might be a part of our strong culture and producers down under are used to adapting and surviving. Still, with a bush fire season that broke all records of destruction, prevailing drought conditions and intense floods, it’s not hard to imagine why the agroindustry is under stress. It is sure to take an unprecedented amount of time and effort to rebuild the industry and get going.
Many young people in rural Australia face a difficult choice - stay on the land or chase jobs elsewhere. And the drought has only made things tougher. But one 18-year-old in Canowindra explains why he is choosing to stay. #abc730 @kitferguson pic.twitter.com/eWrvoeIU5X— abc730 (@abc730) January 24, 2020
Young and old growers around the country are bringing change into the sector to reactivate their farms, as with everything, modernising agricultural practices using automation and other technology promises a way forward. Every day more farmers adopt the idea of using technology to combat their problems, lower their costs and improve their efficiency.
The need for better farm technology leaves the onus on automation and machinery manufacturers to come up with stand-out products and services. Technology service providers play now, more than ever, a pivotal role in helping farmers get back on their feet and thrive again.
Machinery Distribution Business Opportunities in The Agroindustry
Some help is coming to farmers through Regional Australian governments who have been providing a number of relief packages to relieve the bush-fire affected producers. For example, NSW is set to offer grants of up to $75,000 for affected victims. These grants can be utilised to revamp vital infrastructure and machinery that could make an immediate impact on production.
Machinery distributors have an opportunity to provide new products and services to farmers in need all across the country. For technology providers to succeed in the market, great farming products must come along with great service, guidance and counsel. Service technicians on the field must sympathise with the pains of growers and enable them with better solutions, maintenance and insurance plans.
Haying has seen a constant growth of above 3% annually and its expected to amount $10b in value by 2026.
A promising sector where technology providers can help is the haying and forage industry, and it is no secret that machinery is its backbone. The haying industry has seen constant growth at a rate of above 3% annually irrespective of problems and prejudices. Even after the 2019-2020 Black Summer bush-fire season, which severely affected this vital cog for Australia, the sector is expected to grow to more than $10,360 million in value by 2026. Hence, this proves to be an opportunity for machinery manufacturers and distributors to increase their margins in sales, lease and maintenance plans.
Recent data on Australian farmers also shows how there is a real disposition to spend on automated machinery. They recognise that in the long-run, automation will bring yields that are worth the initial time and investment. Machinery distributors should not wait for the farmers to come to them, but they should get to the field and help to grow the industry.
One significant example of the benefits in farm automation is the robots that SwarmFarm Robotics and Green Atlas developed for an apple farm in Queensland and are now planning to distribute for the industry. Tasks like flower counting and thinning operations that required several human hands in the past can now be done with the help of machinery with ease. Additionally, the accuracy and precision of these Aussie-made robots are exemplary. Australian growers are open to embracing technology that makes life easy for them.
It’s not just new inventions that are getting the producer’s attention, though. Heavy machinery like tractors are being sold in increasing numbers around the country. Last December 2019, we saw an unprecedented 7.5% increase in tractor sales compared to December of the previous year. Although smaller tractors are weathering a decline in sales, the over-200hp category is in its hay days. From April to June 2019, there was a 44% surge in the numbers sold.
7.5% increase in tractor sales from Dec 2018 to Dec 2019
Surge in sales in the over-200hp tractor category
Distribution and Servicing Challenges
The increasing interest of farmers in heavy machinery and automation also means that Agroindustry machinery distributors need to be on the top of their game to reach the farmers. Moreover, heavy machinery also comes with a need to be maintained and serviced correctly. As machines become more intricate, technical issues are something that farmers cannot deal with themselves. Therefore, an in-field team with exceptional technical abilities is vital to retain customers.
Scheduling of these technical staff again can be a daunting task. However, here also, technology comes to the rescue. NextService is a scheduler running on the popular NetSuite platform that connects dispatchers to the technical staff.
When it comes to repairs, farmers want a quick response followed by a one-time visit to resolve the problem. However, that is far from reality, as 23% of the time the technician will have to do a check-up visit. With a NetSuite-based platform like NextService, the check-up visit rates can go down. Technical staff are equipped with advanced diagnostics and predictive inventory that can be monitored and re-located by dispatchers on a centralised platform improving the First-Time-Fix rate.
Moreover, the process becomes much more straightforward as the manufacturer can track the components that have been serviced using interactive dashboards. The dashboard gives vital data about the work being done by the technicians, the time required to complete it and the average time to complete such requests.
That’s not all, if a customer opts for a service contract along with the machinery, service providers don’t have to worry about executing their farm machinery servicing request on time. This is also done through the NextService software.
Enabling Long-Term Business Relationship.
Farming is one of those areas which has been left behind by the automation and technology revolution. However, farmers are gradually realising the potential of adopting these new changes. Furthermore, after the late bush-fires and flooding which have ravaged existing infrastructure, farmers, as they always do, will fight to get back on track. This presents an excellent opportunity for Agroindustry machinery distributors to enable firm business relationships with producers and help them reactivate the industry.
For service providers, having a strong technology backbone like NetSuite can be a great differentiator that enables business. The penetration rate of field service application in Australia is quite low at 25%, and as technology providers, leader distributors will be those who embrace modernising systems themselves. Backed up by a reliable business platform like NetSuite + NextService agroindustry field service providers can nurture their customers old and new and maintain a long and stable business relationship.
Need a specialist’s free advice?
Feel free to call an expert in Machinery Distribution ERP Systems today. Find out how cloud-based technology can make your agro-technology distrubution and servicing business a real customer-centric beast.
- Farmers welcome flow of bushfire relief
- Purchasing a fuel-efficient tractor
- Reducing Farm Fuel Costs – Tractor Tips for Broadacre Farmers
- Sales of over-200hp tractors jumped by 44 per cent in May, according to TMA
- Apple growers get robot technology to increase yields
- 2019 ends with a flourish in Ag Equipment Sales