Exhibition visitors who dread the thought of being ‘pounced on’ while walking, eyes averted, past the stands at such events had little to fear at this year’s Farm Expo, held at the Kent Event Centre at Detling, Kent.

For the most part, the sales teams at the increasingly popular show were so busy chatting animatedly to visitors that there was little time to pounce on the unwary. The busy and bustling atmosphere paid tribute to a well-timed, well organised show with a range of exhibitors showing off everything from gardening gloves to high-end tractors.

With the weather always a challenge in early March, this year’s show was cool but at least dry, and while many exhibitors took the opportunity of an indoor pitch, there was still plenty to see on the outside areas, including a popular Demo Zone offering live demonstrations of some of the impressive kit on offer.

In its fifth year, the 2024 show featured more than 100 exhibitors showcasing farm machinery, goods and services from both the biggest national and international suppliers and smaller, specialist outfits.

The atmosphere was positive, the chatter friendly and the feedback from both those manning the stands and those who were out to see what was new in the farming world highlighted the need for an early season farming show.

“We had an amazing day at Farm Expo. With so much going on in British farming it was a much appreciated opportunity to discuss current issues with so many clients and contacts,” said Leo Hickish, chairman of rural consultancy Batcheller Monkhouse, one of a number of professional service providers at the show.

They were joined by banks, insurers, solicitors and representatives from organisations such as the Rural Payments Agency, UK Power Networks, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Kent Young Farmers and Mid Kent College, as well as charities such as the Farming Community Network and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

It was inevitably, though, the impressive machinery on display that attracted the most attention, with the Claas Axion 960 Terra Trac on the Claas Manns stand just one of the agricultural behemoths catching the eye of passers-by.

Most of the big names were there, with displays from, amongst others, Bell Agricultural, Lister Wilder, FGS Agri, Crawfords, Ernest Doe & Sons, Haynes Agricultural, Tuckwells, Krone and Rhino Plant Hire.

Rhino boss Neil Morgan was one of many exhibitors to praise this year’s show, having attended for four of the past five years. “This year has been a good show,” he said, “with plenty of people showing lots of interest in what’s on offer. I think there are more people here and we have also seen quite a few new faces.”

Neil said the timing of Farm Expo was good for his business as the team was usually too busy to attend any of the ploughing matches later in the year. “It’s great to be able to talk to customers and see what’s new,” he commented.

It was the first visit to Farm Expo for exhibitors Yeames Solar, and sales executive Duncan Randall was impressed with the number of visitors and the level of interest expressed.

“I think it’s been a fantastic show,” he commented. “We’ve seen a really good mix of people and they have been happy to chat about the potential of installing solar PV and about the new grant opportunities on offer. Yeames specialises in solar on farms and farmland and we’ve been very impressed with the level of interest.”

It was far from the first time for regular exhibitors N P Seymour, and as usual there was something special on offer from the hands-on tractor and machinery dealership.

The stand featured a bespoke tool carrier built in N P Seymour’s own Cranbrook, Kent, workshop by engineer Mark Maynard from a design by Nick Seymour.

The front-mounted carrier frame, which avoids the need for the usual ‘ mast’ that can obscure the operator’s view, can be fitted with various mechanical weeding implements from manufacturers including Braun and Clemens and can be single- or double-sided and hydraulically or manually adjustable.

Visitors such as Simon King, taking a day away from working at Chapel Down Vineyard to “see what’s out there”, were impressed with the show. “It’s always good to see what new machinery and ideas are on offer,” he said, adding that he had been looking at smaller tractors and telehandlers. “It’s been a worthwhile day out,” he commented.

On the Invicta Insurance Services stand, Adrian Best, Tigi Singhateh and Angus Campbell agreed that the show had been a success, giving them the chance to catch up with existing clients and chat to potential new ones.

“There’s been a good mix of people here, it seems busier than ever, and it’s given us a chance to catch up with what other businesses are offering as well as meeting people on our own stand,” said operations director Adrian.

As with all self-respecting exhibitions these days, Farm Expo featured two interesting and well-attended seminars. The first, hosted by headline sponsor Brachers, was on rural crime and featured Kent Police’s Rural Task Force, while the afternoon saw solar specialists BeBa Energy outline the company’s BeSmarter energy monitoring scheme.