Regional Australia’s ‘largest earthmoving, forestry and agricultural machinery event’, Norco Primex 2023 agricultural trade show wrapped up last week after three days (11-13 May) taking over Casino’s Richmond Valley Events Centre to showcase the latest in farming technology, equipment, and practices.
Reaching its 39th year in 2023, Primex was set to welcome 25,000 attendees, 1,100 suppliers and more than 300 exhibitors. Its theme of ‘Fire up Farmers’ reflected the excitement of so many of the crowd to see the event back in its usual May timeslot. COVID-related supply chain issues, and climate events such as the devastating 2022 floods, have thrown a few challenges in the path of Primex over the last couple of years, so the ‘back, bigger and better than ever’ message was loud and clear.
Bruce Wright, managing director of Primex Field Days, told The Farmer in the lead-up to Primex that, particularly, the many specialty ‘hubs’ that characterise different sectors within the event were developing into highlights in their own right.
The ever-popular Nourish Food and Drink Festival doubled its size compared with the 2022 version, combining local and visiting food and drink providers, with entertainment that ranged from music to chef’s talks and informative presentations.
“We were able to create Nourish because we got an Australian Government Black Summer grant,” said Bruce. “Over the last few years with COVID, floods and everything else restaurants, providores, the people that are sourcing local produce and getting out to the public have been hit hard. To assist them, we’ve been running a program that offers a special opportunity to participate at the event, create brand and product awareness and start building networks.”
The Forestry and Timber hub was once again a great drawcard for visitors, as a natural fit in the Northern Rivers region, and this year finally saw the addition of the Forestry and Timber Industry Collective – an initiative five years in the planning.
“We’ve been talking about carbon neutral for some years, and now planting and harvesting trees and having a regenerative forestry sector that can offer that element is of interest both to farmers and the industry itself,” Bruce told The Farmer. “When you’ve got the issues of forestry in our region being decimated by fires, it’s very applicable to highlight all the advantages of forestry and timber for farmers and the stakeholders in the industries as part of an educational process.”
There was a noticeable influx of students, both uniformed school children and older university students, making the most of the event’s Education and Careers Hub, the sunshine, and the easy access, provided by Primex, to so many innovations, examples of new technology, industry experts and exhibitors.
The event emphasised helping the next generation stay within the industry to work in agriculture, exploring the many ways it can do that. Event partners Southern Cross University had staff on hand to help visiting school students untangle the options available to them as they contemplate entering the workforce – and the primary supply chain. Its exclusive panel event in conjunction with the Regenerative Agricultural Alliance, ‘The Future of Farming: Adapting to Tomorrow’s Agriculture’, filled the pavilion on the Friday afternoon with a crowd hungry for more information on such subject matter as regenerative agtech, future sustainable and horticulture techniques, and the science and industry connections backing this up.
Another clear drawcard for eventgoers to Primex this year was the brand new, only recently launched Affordable Housing hub. Simplified legislation, passed towards the end of 2022, has opened up a raft of new ways to monetise farms and properties by running farm stays, cellar doors, camping, pick-your-own produce, or even on-site restaurants and cafes. ‘Tiny houses’ and self-contained cabins displayed around the hub had plenty of boots through, also providing alternative answers to housing issues created or exacerbated during the 2022 floods in the Northern Rivers region. Perhaps not surprisingly, the nearby Health and Wellbeing hub was also accordingly well attended.
Of course, traditionally speaking, Primex has always been about agtech, equipment, machinery and seeing the latest and greatest. Plenty of that was on offer, but more than ever, there was a real presence of farm-related data: measuring it, recording it, using it, storing it. One of the highlights of the event was the launch of a new range of precision farming equipment, which utilises the latest in GPS and mapping technology to optimise crop yields and reduce waste. This new technology promises to revolutionise the way farmers operate, and was met with a great deal of interest from attendees.
As Bruce told The Farmer: “The agtech sector is going a million miles an hour. Much of the tech is focused on measuring and recording – whether it’s fuel or water tank levels through to pasture improvement, weed management and livestock management. There’s even a company that’s working on facial recognition for cattle.”
At the trademark green NSW Farmers’ tent, discussions ran hot over cups of tea on whichever issues and topics members brought to the staff members – ranging from land access to original plant stock, the latest federal budget through to clarifying laws and rulings that impact the area. All up, an estimated 1300 visitors passed through the tent, taking an equal number of copies of The Farmer magazine with them.
Click here to watch NSW Farmers’ video captured last week at Norco Primex 2023.