Members of the Northern Ireland Guild of Agricultural Journalists thoroughly enjoyed their recent visit to the John Deere dealership Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd near Lisburn in County Antrim.Organised by journalist Chris McCullough and Randal McConnell, the dealership’s managing director, the visit is thought to be the first ever machinery themed event arranged for the Guild. It was aimed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of John Deere Limited in the UK and Ireland.Randal welcomed the group to the dealership and gave a presentation outlining its history and evolution. The business dates back to 1968 when Randal’s father Donn started it up along with some other investors. Expansion soon followed as John Deere equipment became very popular in Northern Ireland, and two additional outlets were opened.The Lisburn premises were initially situated on Waterloo Road, but a larger site was needed. Randal joined the business in 1992 and two years later a move to the current premises on Lisnoe Road was on the cards after the other two outlets were sold to their managers. Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd now also operates a nearby turfcare depot on Saintfield Road, where John Deere’s comprehensive range of merchandise is also on display.Guild members were given a tour of the main dealership premises and shown the latest John Deere tractors as well as the huge selection of parts in stock, the workshops and showroom. The highlight of the visit for many of the members present was being able to ‘drive’ a £125,000, 195hp John Deere 6195R tractor.What the members found out was that the tractor really drove itself, as it was GreenStar ready and fitted with John Deere’s AutoTrac automatic steering system.