By: John O'Connell 

POCATELLO, Idaho — Farm equipment manufacturers and dealers at the 36th Annual Eastern Idaho Ag Expo expect 2015 will be a big year for used equipment sales and refurbishments of old equipment.

About 100 vendors participate in the event, hosted Jan. 20-22 in Idaho State University’s Holt Arena. It’s scheduled in conjunction with the 47th Annual University of Idaho Potato Conference, which includes sessions on potato research and booths featuring another 70 vendors.

Curt Ruehl, owner of G&R Ag Products in Caldwell, Idaho, doubts 2015 will be a “barn burner” from a sales standpoint, given that commodity prices are somewhat down, but his shop has been busy all winter overhauling growers’ existing equipment. He’s also seen greater interest in good used equipment, which is in ample supply now because many farmers upgraded to new machinery during the past four years, when commodity markets were strong.

“We are actually getting a lot of calls for used,” Ruehl said.

Evan Nyborg, director of sales with Logan Farm Equipment and Agritech Equipment in Sugar City, Idaho, said his employer has shifted staff into its used division — Agritech — and anticipates strong demand in that category this year.

“I think generally we’re seeing this year that the sales will be there, but they won’t be as easy to come by as in years past,” Nyborg said. “There’s going to be a bit more guys looking to either rebuild what they have or look to used.”

Nyborg has already noticed sales trending toward used but said it would be easy for his company to shift emphasis back toward new if that category picks up during the year.

He believes Congress also improved the outlook for agricultural equipment sales by raising the limit on tax write-offs for farm equipment from $25,000 to $500,000.

Christian Bloecker, with Spudnik Equipment in Blackfoot, Idaho, anticipates 2015 sales will be “about the same or maybe a little bit less” than last year.

Bloecker and other sales officials at the expo remain optimistic that farmers will seek new equipment to increase their efficiency and cut input costs.

“If you get more out of an acre, it makes up for (lower commodity prices),” Ruehl said, noting potato prices are trending upward.

Ruehl advised growers seeking new equipment not to dally, as many manufacturers are keeping less inventory and building more equipment to order, resulting in waits of more than half a year for new, large equipment.

There were plenty of new innovations on display at the Expo to entice farmers. Spudnik, for example, unveiled its largest crop cart ever, with double the capacity of most trucks, huge wheels to limit soil compaction and technology to reduce bruising. Agritech’s new Surge Pro moves potatoes on a conveyor to prevent piling and limit bruising.

Canada-based Schulte Industries brought new equipment to help farmers plow snow, or to effectively chop sage and junipers when breaking land out of the Conservation Reserve Program.

Double M Ag & Irrigation, based in American Falls, Idaho, displayed a new device enabling growers using pivot chemigation to apply fertilizer at variable rates.