Admittedly, we’re biased. After all, the name of this magazine is CropLife IRON, meaning we definitely lean toward the BIG equipment side of the manufacturing portion of the industry.
When we put together the 2007 Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) preview issue, what attendees were planning to look for at the trade show came as something of a shock. Instead of the big rigs taking the top spot, last year’s MAGIE visitors were on the hunt for lightbars and guidance systems. Indeed, almost half of the MAGIE attendees in 2007 (48%, to be exact) were on the lookout for these systems. Self-propelled sprayers finished a distant second at 33%.
“That’s something that really seems like it can help our business become more efficient,” said many of last year’s respondents when asked why lightbars and guidance systems were on their MAGIE shopping lists.
What a difference a year makes. In 2008, self-propelled sprayers are back at the top of most MAGIE visitor wish lists. According to the 105 respondents to this year’s e-survey, 33% are still looking for BIG IRON for their businesses. While this is the same percentage as in 2007, this was large enough to top the poll this year. Most retailers said that the extra cash being spent by their grower-customers in 2008 has encouraged them to upgrade their application equipment to stay competitive and increase their efficiency.
Finding Less Guidance
As for the former No. 1 MAGIE equipment category, lightbars and guidance systems are a distant second in 2008. This year, only 20% of attendees plan to shop for these products in Bloomington, down 18% from last year’s total.
Looking for a reason why lightbars and guidance systems have lost some buzz with MAGIE attendees is harder to pin down. No two respondents answered this question the same way. Just speculating on CropLife IRON’s part, it could be that the incredible amount of interest in 2007 means those companies prone to upgrade their lightbar and guidance systems did so last year and are not looking to make another change until 2009.
Of course, a simplier explanation could tie back to the incredible popularity of automatic steering systems. In our 2007 survey, CropLife IRON lumped this equipment segment into the lightbars and guidance systems category. But because these systems have proven so popular with MAGIE attendees for the past few years, we decided to separate this segment into its own stand-alone category for 2008. According to respondents, 17% of them plan to scope out automatic steering systems at MAGIE 2008. So when combined, lightbars and guidance systems and automatic steering systems are being sought by 37% of MAGIE attendees, which would still slightly outpace sprayers in the big picture.
Rounding out the rest of the Top 5 product categories being shopped for by MAGIE attendees, controllers finished fourth at 16%. This represents an increase of 4% vs. 2007’s total. Meanwhile, storage tanks are being sought by 15% of 2008 MAGIE attendees, down 9% from the previous year.