Machinery Chatter

Return to the National Farm Machinery Show

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Companies selling solar panels to generate electricity were present at this year's National Farm Machinery Show held in Louisville, Kentucky. The show ran Feb. 14-17. (DTN photo by Russ Quinn)

The 2018 National Farm Machinery Show last week showcased almost every agricultural product you could possibly imagine. From the largest tractors and combines to the smallest hand tools and just about everything in-between were on display in Louisville, Kentucky.

I think I have a bit of a unique perspective on the nation's largest indoor farm show.

I went to the show this year after a two-year absence, but before that, I attended every show for 10 consecutive years. I have seen the show continue to grow as more and more exhibitors want to show off their wares.

There were a few things I noticed as I walked (7 miles in one day, according to my smartphone) through the Kentucky Exposition Center for parts of three different days.

At shows like this one, you can really see the trend toward both larger equipment and fairly small equipment. With fewer mid-sized farmers, manufacturers are building equipment for large commercial farmers with many acres and/or many head of livestock as well as smaller equipment geared more toward the acreage or lifestyle-type farmer. I should have counted to see how many exhibitors were there selling small tractors, riding lawnmowers, ATV, UTVs, etc., because there were quite a few.

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Also, there were a number of companies selling parts, especially planter parts. There have always been companies offering replacement parts for farm equipment before at the show, but the number there this year was pretty striking, at least to me.

I don't know whether this is a product of a down ag economy where farmers are keeping planters longer and rebuilding them or just greater demand for various add-on products for existing planters. Regardless of the situation, there were MANY companies offering various planter-related products.

Another aspect of the show I noticed was some of the new products and retailers I hadn't seen in the past. It doesn't mean they were brand new to this year's show, but still new enough I didn't see them in past years.

There were a couple different companies at the show selling solar panels, something I didn't remember from my previous trips to Louisville. These solar panels can help farmers generate their own electricity, which can run both grain and livestock facilities.

These companies also made picnic tables with built-in solar panels in the canopies for a built-in power station. The tables allow you to charge your electronic devices, all while enjoying the great outdoors.

One of many interesting machinery companies at the show this year was a company called McHale, which I had never heard of before. The company is based in Ireland and manufactures hay equipment, including round balers, rakes, mowers and hay wrappers. According to McHale's website,…, the company was formed in the 1980s, and its products are sold in more than 50 countries across six continents. The company has manufacturing facilities in Ballinrobe, County Mayo in Ireland and Szolnok, Hungary.

In the coming months in the Machinery Chatter blog, I will write in more detail about some of the more interesting products I saw at the 2018 National Farm Machinery Show.

Russ Quinn can be reached at

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