In the equipment marketplace the past few years, manufacturers have been pre-occupied with the tier question. Of course, in this particular situation, they are referring to the new federally-mandated emission regulations that agricultural equipment engines will have to adhere to within the next year or so. For some time now, potential customers have been educated on the new Tier IV engines that will soon become standard in virtually every new piece of Big IRON on the market.
But when it comes to the ag equipment manufacturers themselves, the question of tiers is taking on increasing importance, especially among those companies that make self-propelled sprayers for the nation’s largest ag retailers. For several years now, CropLife® has asked companies on its annual CropLife 100 listing about their ag equipment preferences. Likewise, for several years, the gap in fleet make-up between the largest self-propelled sprayer manufacturers such as AGCO Corp., John Deere and Case IH and the other marketers out there has grown progressively wider. During the 2011 CropLife 100 survey, the percentage difference between the Big Three and the other players in self-propelled sprayers stood at 38%. In the 2012 survey, however, this gap has grown significantly, now standing at 53%.
Among the Big Three themselves, the annual battle for overall market share continues to be heated. Despite this fact, the No. 1 player in the market among CropLife 100 retailers remains AGCO — the same position the Duluth, GA-based company has held since our magazine started tracking these figures in the early 2000s. Since companies can have more than one manufacturer’s brands in their fleets, our survey asked respondents to mark all the brands that were present (meaning that a score of 100% would be perfect per brand name among retailers surveyed). In 2011, 87% of CropLife 100 respondents wrote that AGCO self-propelled sprayers — either sporting the Ag-Chem, Spra-Coupe or Willmar names (in a few cases) — made up part of their equipment fleets. In 2012, this percentage dipped only slightly, to 85%.
As for why AGCO machines remain the most popular in their fleet configurations, CropLife 100 respondents continued to credit the company for constantly upgrading the options on their machines.
Actually, the battle for second place in 2012 was the more intriguing fight. In 2011, John Deere had a comfortable 13% lead over Case IH among CropLife 100 retailer self-propelled sprayer fleets, 79% to 66%. In 2012, however, the lead evaporated significantly. This year, 74% of respondents wrote that John Deere sprayers were in their fleets. Meanwhile, 73% indicated that sprayers with red and black paint were present.
When looking at the next tier of self-propelled sprayer manufacturers, the news from the 2012 CropLife 100 survey was mixed. On the one hand, GVM saw a modest uptick in its sprayer fleet presence, with 20% of respondents indicating Prowlers or Predator models were in their equipment yards, up from 18% in 2011. On the other hand, Hagie Manufacturing continued to struggle, with its units now present in 15% of respondent fleets, down from 28% in 2011. Likewise, Miller-St. Nazianz sprayers were present in only 8% of 2012 CropLife 100 respondent fleets, down from 15% in 2011.
Besides learning what ag equipment products were currently sitting in retailer lots, the CropLife 100 survey also tries to determine what brands are likely to be added to these fleets in the coming year. Again, as with the current self-propelled sprayer make-up questions, respondents can choose multiple answers for their responses.
In the 2011 survey, Case IH was the most popular choice among respondents with plans to buy new equipment in 2012 at 55%. On the bright side, the Racine, WI-based company saw this percentage basically hold steady in the 2012 survey with 54% of respondents planning to buy red and black sprayers in 2013.
But Case IH no longer holds the lead in this segment. Instead, 58% of 2012 CropLife 100 survey respondents wrote they plan to buy John Deere sprayers in 2013, up 7% from the 2011 survey results.
In third place among this group was AGCO. According to the 2012 CropLife 100 survey, 45% of respondents hope to purchase Ag-Chem or Spra-Coupe sprayers in 2013. The better news for the company is the fact that this percentage has been steadily improving, up from 33% in 2011 and 28% in 2010.
Planning To Buy
Of course, perhaps the best news on this front for self-propelled sprayer manufacturers is how strongly CropLife 100 retailers plan to buy new equipment in 2013. For example, in the 2011 survey, 21% of respondents wrote that their companies had “no plans to purchase” any new sprayers during the 2012 calendar year. In the 2012 survey, however, this percentage has dropped significantly, with only 14% of respondents being in a “non-buying” mood come 2013.
So AGCO leads in terms of the number of units in the field and John Deere has the edge in intended purchases for 2013. But which company offers the best overall service? On the 2011 CropLife 100 survey, John Deere leads vs. its peers at 37%. Case IH was a close second at 30%.
On the 2012 survey, however, these companies switched positions. According to this year’s CropLife 100 respondents, Case IH provides the best service to its customers at 40%. John Deere, meanwhile, was chosen best by 37% of those surveyed. As was the case in 2011, AGCO remains a distant third on this question with only 17% of CropLife 100 retailers rating it as providing the best service to its customers. No other self-propelled sprayer manufacturer finished higher than 3% on this question.