Last Sunday I checked out of my Hanover Germany hotel room and grabbed a cab to the airport for an early morning flight. 22 hours, three flights and a 2 ½ hour drive later I went to sleep at home in Rural Saskatchewan. I’d been in Germany for a full week, taking in every day of Agritechnica, the world’s largest machinery show. I was just one of the roughly 450,000 visitors to pass through the turnstiles.
That’s an astonishing number of people, roughly ten times the number that come to Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina. As they always do, executives from DLG, the non-profit society that organizes the show, held a closing press conference to talk about the event. The attendance this year, they said, was up seven percent over the last show, The number of exhibitors, 2,898, was also up by seven per cent, completely filling the world’s largest fair grounds.
Staff also conducted a survey and found that 98 per cent of the show goers they spoke to were fully satisfied with their experience.
Those numbers are a report card on the two years of work done by the staff at DLG since the last Agritechnica. By any measure, the show was a roaring success. But aside from their effectiveness in promoting the event, what exactly is it about this show that inspires people to travel from all around the globe to be there? Why, exactly, has Agritechnica has become the farm machinery world’s equivalent of the pilgrimage to Mecca?
Maybe it’s because this is a show with a point of view. That definitely isn’t to say other shows aren’t anything more than a glitzy display. But Agritechnica’s approach seems unique. It’s concept centres around the DLG slogan, “Impulse für den Fortschritt”. Loosely translated that means “impetus for progress”.
The list of seminars held on the grounds discussing everything from the potential market for farm machinery in emerging regions like Africa to practical production methods is a long one. The primary reason DLG was created back around the turn of the previous century was to facilitate the exchange of agricultural information—to help farmers keep up with advancing technology and make them better at what they do. Agritechnica is a practical application of that concept on a scale unmatched anywhere else in the world.
And you could argue that because it’s held in Europe, there might be added value for North American farmers to go to it.
“Every trip across the ocean is worth a college degree,” said one South African farmer I spoke to at the show. “It opens your mind.”
Hanging just above his head in the International Visitors’ Lounge as he said that was one of several large banners with catch phrases on them. This one said, “Operational success begins in the mind”. That is the English equivalent of a German phrase, and it does lose a little in translation. But the meaning is clear and hard to argue with.
If you go to any farm equipment show, you’ll likely come away dreaming about how nice it would be to have the latest and best machinery on your farm. But if you go to a show and come away with an understanding of farming from an entirely different prospective and feel compelled to mull over the new possibilities for your operation, you’ll know it’s been time well spent.
That’s what happens at Agritechnica; and that’s why it’s worth coping with jet lag to make the pilgrimage.
Watch for a series of articles in a future Grainews issue that take a close look at some of the innovative technology on display at the show. And look for the videos taken on the show grounds, too. They’ll appear under the videos link at Grainews.ca in a couple of weeks.