Reflections from the Australian National Field Days

From the delights of an air-conditioned cab to the mind-blowing advancements of tractors that steer themselves, On-Trac Ag’s Warwick Westcott has seen big changes in his industry over the 30 years he has been attending Orange’s Australian National Field Days (ANFD). Source: The Land

And, says Mr Westcott, he has also seen some big changes in the field days themselves.

“On-Trac Ag has been operating for 10 years and we’ve been at the ANFD each of those years, but my business partners and I have actually been attending for decades,” Mr Wescott said.

“In that time I have seen the Orange field days’ dynamic change as the dynamics of this district have changed.

“We now spend a lot more time talking to smaller landholders than we used to and there is a bigger emphasis on the range of smaller machinery we sell.”

The ANFD grew out of the Orange Machinery Field Day, which was first held in 1952 as a way for farmers to observe new machinery in action.

Exhibitor numbers have grown from 30 to 600 over the years, while visitor numbers have built from 5000 to 20,000 a year.

What has stayed the same, says Mr Westcott, is the field days’ role in marketing and relationship building with customers.

“It’s a great social event and a way to keep in touch with our customers,” he said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by fellow ANFD supporter Steve Dellow from Red River Stockyards in Tamworth.

“Red River Stockyards is a family owned company started by the Lynch family 10 years ago,” Mr Dellow said.

“We’ve attended the ANFD every year and it’s important for us to be there because it draws exhibitors and patrons from all over the country.”

Steve says the field days’ committee understands the event’s role in relationship building and ensures Red River is located on the same site each year, providing continuity for themselves and their customers.

Speaking from experience, he said awards presented at the field days were also valuable marketing tools, with Red River taking out a NAB Agribusiness Award for an innovative raised sheep drench race in 2013.

Bushman Tanks is another long-time exhibitor which has received awards at the field days – the most recent being Best Exhibit 2014.

Bushman NSW sales manager Steve Dale has been attending for 19 years and says the event provides a number of synergies for the business.

“It’s a well-run event on an attractive, leafy site – I remember when the trees were three feet tall and surrounded by mesh guards – and it is perfectly located for us because Orange is our NSW distribution centre,” he said.

“It’s been interesting to be part of the changes over the years, such as moving from mid-week to incorporating weekends, and assessing the impacts.

“For us, the incorporation of a Saturday has led to more enquiry and we like the potential offered by more people through the gate.”

The 2017 Australian National Field Days will be held from Thursday October 26 to Saturday October 28.