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The plough factor— Louisville

Preface

If you’re in the market for the latest tractor or combine harvester, the National Farm Machinery Show is the place to be. Monocle goes to Kentucky to sow our seeds.

Illinois, Indiana, John Deere

Walking into the glass-clad Kentucky Exhibition Center, the smell of baked Cinnabons is overpowering and you have to fight your way through the queues for stands selling “RIBS RIBS RIBS”, pulled pork and cider doughnuts. It feels more like a county fair than an equipment exhibition but this is the 47th National Farm Machinery Show and the hall is packed with more than 300,000 corn-fed, plaid-flannel-sporting farmers, celebrating record commodity prices, high farmland value and an apparent return to big American agriculture.

Based in the outskirts…

Bumper harvest

Last year was a record for US agriculture: average crop prices were the highest ever, bolstering the growing economies of Midwest states and sending net farm income up 28 per cent to $100.9bn. This pushed the value of farmland to a record high – across the Midwest it has almost doubled since 2009. Carlos Slim, George Soros and the Qatar Royal Family are all investing in farmland around the world. The National Farm Machinery Show in Kentucky had a record turnout this year.

Best in show: top tractors

1. Claas Jaguar 950: a forage harvester with an intelligent management system that makes for highly economic chopping.
2. New Holland PowerStar T4 and TS series: an all-round compact utility tractor that is good for loading hay and cutting (and even snow-blowing) with ergonomically designed controls.
3. John Deere’s Gator 550-S4: the company’s first four-seater utility vehicle.
4. Kubota RTV series: recreational vehicles for getting around on 25 horsepower, which fit in the back of a pick-up truck.

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