Coronavirus lockdowns have triggered unprecedented growth in online selling of farm machinery and the trend is likely to continue beyond the pandemic.
CEO and co-founder of Machines4U Steve Krebs said the online selling platform had experienced a 300 per cent rise in responses to farm machinery advertisements in 2020.
He said sellers of used farm machinery had also been enjoying a bumper year with COVID-19 both reducing and delaying new machinery and tractor deliveries from key overseas suppliers.
Mr Krebs expected the global disruption of new farm machinery deliveries would continue into 2021 which would put continued pressure on demand for used machinery.
Machines4U.com.au is a leading digital marketplaces for buying, selling and hiring new and used machinery.
Mr Krebs said machinery shortages were also likely to lift demand for the hiring of farm machinery.
"We are about to push into hire (in farm machinery) in a big way because that's something that has happened across other industries
"If there is a stock shortage, the dealers will hold onto stock and then start hiring it out," he said.
"Sellers are moving into the hire game to maintain cash flow, a shift that is likely to become more common the longer shipping delays continue."
Farmers weren't used to hiring, he said, but that may be a better option than being forced by limited choice to buy equipment or machinery that didn't suit their needs.
Mr Krebs said demand for earthmoving, construction, metalworking and woodworking machinery had reached an all-time high in 2020.
"Demand for farm equipment and generators more than doubled and demand for trucks grew by 142pc from April to June," Mr Krebs said.
"International factories, including those in the United States and Europe, are experiencing slower production rates and a reduced shipping capacity to Australia, causing bottlenecks in shipping with delays of up to three to four months.
"Cargo ships have been held up around the country due to equipment breakdowns or industrial action and stock that has arrived onshore is delayed due to strict biosecurity and health protocols on imports, not to mention global trade tensions," he said.
"The supply of new equipment will be few and far between which will drive up the demand and price of used equipment.
"Anyone selling machinery of any sort is in a really unique position," he said.
One item keenly searched for online this year has been small 60 horsepower (44.7 kilowatt) tractors, Mr Krebs said.
Manager for machinery sales on AuctionsPlus Matt Cotton said strong prices and clearances at most farm clearing sales had come off the back of a surge in confidence across the rural sector following widespread rain and bumper grain crops.
"I would say that grain bins, particularly around October and early November, were in hot demand," he said.
"It's hard to say what 2021 will bring but I think we will see more volume online across the various websites as producers become more used to buying and selling virtually.
"COVID has sped up what would have otherwise likely been a slow move to online sales," Mr Cotton said.
The AgTrader online platform, an extension of the classifieds that appear in Australian Community Media's national network of farm newspapers including Farm Weekly, The Land, Queensland Country Life, Stock Journal, Stock and Land and the North Queensland Register, has also been enjoying bumper traffic.
ACM director of product David Wallace said user/buyer visits had climbed 18pc to 69,947 in October compared with the same month last year.
He said 55pc of searches were for agricultural machinery and 15pc for vehicles.
Half the buyers were now using their mobile phones to buy equipment on AgTrader com.au, he said.
And 50pc of the agricultural machinery, equipment and vehicles for sale on AgTrader were used.
AgTrader was also sharing in the big upswing in the listing of farm clearing sales online with 25 to 30 now advertised each month.
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