Most Prairie farm equipment manufacturers looking to expand into overseas need partners for distributing their products. For Saskatchewan’s Seedhawk, that partner was Swedish company Vaderstad, which has an established dealer network, and the partnership is proving successful.
While eastern Europe was the market Seedhawk and Vaderstad had expected to capitalize on with Seedhawk’s no-till air seeder technology, they are finding growing interest in the West. “It’s a market we never expected to get into,” says Brian Dean, Seedhawk’s vice-president, director of research and development.
To fully evaluate the no-till system used on the Seedhawk-Vaderstad seeders, the Swedish company decided to put the technology to a head-to-head comparison trial under conditions typical of western Europe. Dean says the results were better than expected. “Even Vaderstad, our partner, was a little surprised. We were out producing them (European designs) on yields.”
The job now for Vaderstad is to get the word out to farmers in western Europe and convince them the technology offers increased efficiencies. When speaking at the Agritechnica show in Hanover, Dean said many people visiting the Vaderstad display and looking at the Seedhawk-designed air seeder have to scratch their heads a little. “It’s drawing a lot of attention. People don’t know what it is.”
LEARNING TO GO SLOW
Dean adds the air seeder design has already found a strong following with farmers in Finland, making significant marketing inroads there. But using the technology requires a change in field operations for farmers adopting it. Those using the Seedhawk-Vaderstad implement have to slow their working speeds a little from what they are used to with local equipment. But the number of field operations is significantly reduced, which makes up for the slower seeding rate.
Displaying their seeding equipment at Agritechnica is central to getting the Seedhawk no-till design in front of potential customers. “Agritechnica and SIMA (held in Paris) are shows we will always be at,” Dean says. “It’s a premier show for us.”
So far, Dean says, the transatlantic partnership is working well for both companies; and he’s optimistic about the market potential in western Europe for his company’s no-till air seeder design. “We’re slowly overcoming the barriers,” he says.