SPOTLIGHT: Agricultural tractors see 30% more bidders

May 25, 2022| 6 minutes to read

If there’s one equipment category that tugs at people’s heartstrings, it’s tractors. Their massive tires, powerful engines, and their versatility. Many tractor owners almost treat their machines as family members and build a strong bond over time. This month’s SPOTLIGHT article is dedicated to this versatile piece of machinery and the latest trends we’re seeing in the industry.

Tractors come in all shapes and sizes, but they always have one thing in common. They’re engineered to deliver a maximum tractive force at a slow speed, and they’re equipped to push or pull supporting machinery such as balers, sprayers, seeders, mowers, and more. In farming, they’re used for a range of purposes from plowing and tilling to more high-tech applications, such as modern precision farming. In many countries they’re often used for construction jobs.

Autonomous and sustainable tractors

Did you know that in the 1930s, some tractors could run on different types of fuel? It’s an impressive feat, especially considering today’s goal of finding alternatives to fossil fuels. Like the construction industry, farming equipment manufacturers are looking for new, sustainable ways to power their tractors.

For example, NEW HOLLAND developed their new T6.180 to offer fuel flexibility with an engine of 180-hp that can run on biomethane, as well as compressed natural gas. A strategic move as the biomethane industry continues to grow in Europe and is an important initiative supported by the European Commission.

JOHN DEERE added a new electric variable transmission (EVT) to their biggest tractor items. This innovation has been important in overcoming limitations with stepless transmission (popularly known as IVT), especially on larger and higher-horsepower equipment. Not only is EVT quieter than IVT, it can also be leveraged to provide extra power for tractor implements to improve overall performance and production.

If this wasn’t enough, what about autonomous tractors? Brands such as JOHN DEERE continue to innovate and implement features such as computer vision, artificial intelligence, and GPS in their latest tractor models for autonomously planting and harvesting a field. Operators can control the equipment through their smartphones. These next-generation JOHN DEERE tractors are scheduled to be released toward the end of 2022.

The used market for tractors

According to CEMA, the European Agricultural Machinery Association, nearly 230,000 tractors were registered in Europe in 2021 which is a 17% increase from 2020. But shortages of raw materials and components continue to affect the supply chain, resulting in long delivery times. So how are farming companies overcoming this challenge? On the used equipment market, tractors are highly sought-after machines – in fact, at Ritchie Bros. it’s the most searched-for type of equipment. Buyers are looking for recent model, low-hour tractors from popular brands on the market. But they can be elusive “unicorns” in the world of used equipment: you need to know where to find them.

On Mascus, our popular equipment listing website, we’ve seen a 19% decrease in tractors for sale in the first quarter compared to 2021. JOHN DEERE was the most popular brand for buyers, and most buyer interest in tractors came from Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.

At Ritchie Bros. auctions and online marketplace, we’ve also seen a small increase in volume. Over the last two years, we sold more than 2,000 agriculture tractors in Europe, noting the growing interest for both sellers and buyers using auctions and our online marketplace to transact farming equipment.  

The most popular brands sold in Europe

When we look at the most popular tractor brands sold at Ritchie Bros., we see JOHN DEERE at the top followed closely by FENDT and NEW HOLLAND. These 3 brands represent almost 50% of all tractors sold at Ritchie Bros. in Europe.

More bidders for tractors in 2021 and 2022

While the demand for used tractors keeps growing as the volume is decreasing, tractors continue to be an attractive item. Ritchie Bros. auctions and marketplace offer a large inventory of brands and models for the category of tractors. In 2021, we saw a 30% increase in bidders, with an average of 64 bidders per item sold. The high number of bidders per tractor has resulted in more competition between bidders. Over the last five years the median price increased by 31% on agricultural tractors sold at Ritchie Bros. in Europe.

Tractor highlights

Let’s look at some of the biggest and most expensive tractors sold at our auctions and marketplace. Our customers loved the NEW HOLLAND T8.435 AC Smarttraxx that we sold in November 2021 during our Meppen, Germany auction for EUR 108,000 (GBP 92,000). The same year in December, a FENDT 1050 Vario Profi Plus from 2018 received several bids and was sold for EUR 242,500 (GBP 206,600). Finally, for fans of the green and yellow brand, a JOHN DEERE 6250R from 2019 was sold for EUR 132,000 (GBP 112,500) in March 2022.

The bottom line

They say agriculture is the ground floor of innovation. The industry realized long ago that it needed to be creative to maintain and improve productivity, while also doing its part to implement and sustain a greener, cleaner relationship with the environment. As the farmer’s main tool, tractors are already at the top of the list for improvements and innovations. Autonomous tractors that are able to seed and harvest fields by themselves are scheduled to be on the market by the end of 2022. Tractors running on biomethane are already in the order books of OEMs.

For now, though, as new equipment deliveries are still being impacted by supply chain disruptions, buyers can rely on the used equipment market for recent model, low-hour tractors. But be sure to bring your A-game because you’ll need to be ready to compete for them as the demand for these items shows no signs of slowing down.

Back to top