The Bad U.S. economy was missing from the National Farm Machinery Show held in mid-February. Tens of thousands of attendees streamed into the 27 acres of exhibit halls just like they did last year when the economy was booming. Exhibit booths were swamped with visitors during most hours of the day.

Company representatives reported solid interest from their farm customers. Some reps said they saw many serious buyers this year and not a lot of people walking around just to look. Nearly all of the exhibitors we visited said business was good, with some softening compared to last year.

The hottest items at the show appeared to be precision technology tools. Controllers, displays, software, assisted steering devices and handheld computers all attracted a lot of attention. Most of the new products mentioned in our story “Guide to Guidance,” starting on page 35, were exhibited at the show. These items run in price from a few hundred dollars to twenty-thousand dollars.

At the other end of the price spectrum were massive planters. John Deere's new 120-ft. planter looked like it was covered with ants during most of the show. While buyers may be limited for the $345,000 piece of equipment, show goers considered it a must-see machine. (See “The Green Giant,” page 16.) Just across the aisle was Case IH's new 90-ft. planter with a rear steerable axle. The Early Riser 1260 costs $240,000. Kinze had its own big crowd looking at its high-tech 3660 ASD planter that retails for $169,000.

While the rest of the U.S. economy is in the tank, crop production agriculture still looks strong. Let's hope we can stay that way until the general economy turns around.