Market share is viewed as a measurement of success, especially among farm equipment manufacturers in the U.S. But the landscape — both literally and figuratively — is different in Europe.
With a mix of small and large operations (some topping 1 million acres) and diverse crop rotations, farm contractors often perform the majority of field operations, including seeding, fertilizer application and harvesting.
There isn’t a dominant brand in the market, so landing and keeping farm contractors in Europe is big business, a point that was emphasized by Klaus Braunhardt, director of precision ag solutions for John Deere in Europe.
During my visit to the company’s manufacturing facility in Mannheim, Germany, last week, Braunhardt spoke on the influence a reliable, comprehensive precision platform can have on contractor’s equipment purchasing decisions.
He noted that the vast majority of forage harvesters and combines produced in Europe are being run by farm contractors, with some running 50-60 pieces of equipment in a multi-colored fleet.
“Uptime is everything for those guys and when it comes to purchasing decisions for equipment, it’s not about who has the most horsepower,” Braunhardt says. “It’s about how effectively can their machines be connected so they can run more efficiently. They are very data-driven because contractors don’t know year-to-year yields or where the wet spots are in a particular field.”
This is where Braunhardt sees opportunity for growth. Offering and supporting a precision service plan is a pathway to brand loyalty, he says. It’s a model that has merit in North America, as farmers often speak about quality and reliability of precision support as having increasing influence in their purchasing decisions.
Braunhardt sees potential for the same circumstances to be more common in Europe as well.
“Many contractors are hungry for precision technology in this area,” he says. “If we can win them over with precision, there is opportunity on the equipment side as well to change their fleets. It’s something we’ve seen in other countries and an opportunity for us as well.”