Last week's Highland Show, held at Ingliston on the outskirts of Edinburgh was a grand opportunity to inspect the latest machinery and equipment displayed by over 300 manufacturers and dealers.

While I am sure a lot of business was done on Thursday and Friday, which are traditionally the farmers' days, there are no official figures to reveal just how much.

Apart from the Highland Show and other local shows, farmers can also purchase equipment at AgriScot, a one day event held in November in the big exhibition halls at Ingliston. Then there are specialist events like Cereals that was held earlier this month in Cambridgeshire where arable farmers could see a range of products and services on offer and arable equipment like crop sprayers in action.

Later this year in September, Tillage-Live is to be held in East Lothian where farmers can once again see sprayers in action as well as a range of cultivation equipment.

Livestock farmers also have their own specialist events like Scotgrass that was held three years ago in Dumfries and is due to be staged again next May at the same venue. It demonstrates a range of silage-making equipment in action like mowers, rakes and precision choppers.

Depending on profitability, British farmers spend close on £2bn a year on farm equipment. That's big business for manufacturers and dealers, but a recent survey carried out in partnership between AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) and land agent Strutt and Parker revealed UK farmers are spending too much on their farm machinery. The survey looked at machinery costs across AHDB's 21 monitor farms and revealed a huge variation in machinery costs per hectare.

Harry Henderson, one of AHDB's Knowledge Exchange Managers said: "There are growers using very high capacity machinery and not getting the return on expenditure in either reduced labour hours, costs or higher yields. Make no mistake, machinery is priced on the output it is capable of.

"The biggest cost element in growing a tonne of wheat is machinery, at between 25 and 30 per cent of the total spend. So it has the biggest potential for some serious pre-Brexit reviewing."

Annual machinery and labour costs on the monitor farms reviewed ranged from £288 to £593 per hectare, which measured from 97 to 1,278 hectares.

Mr. Henderson added: "Perhaps the surprising revelation is there is no correlation between farm sizes, meaning economies of scale are not being realised."

Some of the smallest farm businesses also ran the lowest costs and a few of the larger units incurred the highest costs per hectare. This means the common idea that scale helps to spread costs does not always ring true.

Having your own equipment with enough capacity to get jobs done quickly in difficult conditions is becoming a luxury few can afford. Second-hand machinery sales are currently buoyant with European buyers looking to take advantage of the weaker pound supporting the market alongside a shortage of machinery coming forward - so there are some good trade-in deals to be had.

Nevertheless, the typical list price of a new 150hp tractor is between £60,000 and £80,000, with really big, sophisticated ones well over £100,000. Most combine harvesters have a new price tag of between £100,000 and £250,000, while a self-propelled forage harvester is well over £100,000.

Apart from the hefty cost of modern machinery, there is also the problem of finding skilled farm staff to work the equipment.

Sharing machinery with neighbours or hiring contractors are a couple of ways round the problem, another is machinery rings where farmers pool their equipment and staff. Scotland's first machinery ring was established on 1987, and now the Scottish Machinery Ring Association has member rings throughout Scotland, serving more than 7,000 farmers and other rural businesses.

The concept is simple - a machinery ring matches a shortage of machinery and labour capacity on one farm with a surplus on another. All agri-businesses are eligible to join and each pays an annual subscription in order to access the services.

A trained manager co-ordinates the movement of equipment and workers in the ring to best advantage. Each operation like mowing, baling or carting silage has a set rate, as has labour, so that everything can be properly invoiced.

So a farmer who wants to make silage may get his ring to supply most of the equipment and operators while he may drive his own tractor and trailer.

Later he may supply his own tractor, equipment and labour through the ring to other farmers, so that at the end of the year the ring might even owe him money.