Prairie farm machinery manufacturers looking for markets outside North America have almost all turned their attention to eastern Europe. The climate there is very similar, making it a good match for the advanced dryland technology Prairie implements offer. For the most part, though, efforts to crack the western European market have been limited, mainly because of the wetter climate and different farming practices.
But despite those differences, some farmers in western Europe are finding value in Canadianbuilt implements
Stephan Dbler, who spent six years working on a 6,000-hectare farm near Leipzig, Germany, had his first experience with a Canadian implement when the farm, which had once been one of the large holdings common under the former East German regime, took a chance on a Degelman heavy harrow. It was used for managing straw residue on stubble.
Purchasing the harrow, which was an uncommon design for that area, required a leap of faith on the part of the farm manager, who happened to be Dbler’s father. But, according to Dbler, the harrow’s superior performance made that risk pay off. “There’s no better machine for the job,” he says.
Even though there were other European-built options available, Dbler says the Degelman outperformed them. And he logged many hours at the wheel of a tractor using the implement, so he’s speaking from experience. He was so impressed, he ended up working for Degelman’s European distributor.
Another Hanover-area farmer, Hanns-Christian Seeelberg-Buresch, also decided to buy a Degelman harrow. Speaking through an interpreter, Seeelberg says there are no European machines that really compare to the Degelman, which was originally built for use on the Prairies.
He was attracted to the pull-type configuration, which contrasts to the mostly three-point-hitch mounted implements common in Europe. And that meant the Degelman has a much wider working width than local designs, allowing him to cover ground a lot faster. With the intensive cultivation common to that area, that efficiency has the potential to reduce consumption of fuel, an expensive commodity in Germany.
While most Prairie companies have limited their marketing efforts in western Europe, it seems their implements may have a wider appeal than expected. If Canadian technology continues to win favour with western European farmers, that may give manufacturers a reason to take a second look at the sales potential there, which could mean increased opportunity for exports.