* Investment will expand Waterloo, Iowa plant
* Large tractor capacity will increase 10 pct (Updates with detail on Deere’s product line, other investments, farming conditions)
March 1 (Reuters) - Deere & Co plans to invest $70 million to expand large tractor production at its Waterloo, Iowa, facility, furthering the company’s bet that global demand for agricultural machinery will grow.
Deere, the world’s largest farm equipment maker, has steadily increased capacity at its massive Waterloo plant over the past decade. The upcoming expansion increase production capacity by 10 percent.
The company employs 6,000 people at its Waterloo operations, and ships the high-horsepower tractors -- such as the 8000 Series -- made there to about 130 countries. Deere does not break out production numbers at the plant, and does not disclose sales by model line.
The company does not expect the Waterloo investment to lead to additional jobs. Deere’s North America headcount likely hit a four-decade high of 32,300, but it fell as a percentage of the company’s global workforce.
Deere said the Waterloo investment is driven by the company’s expectation for future demand for large John Deere tractors.
Deere, like U.S. competitors Agco Corp and CNH Global, have notched record sales of farm machinery, including tractors and combines, due to growing global demand for food. Farmers have enjoyed extremely favorable conditions, including soaring land values.
Deere is working on more than a dozen major plant expansions around the world, with investments in factories in the United States, China, Russia, India and Brazil. It plans to spend $1.3 billion on capital investments in 2012 -- and it has invested $5.2 billion on capital projects since 2004.
Other heavy equipment makers, including Caterpillar Inc , have been adding capacity in the United States.
The Waterloo announcement follows a mixed reaction to Deere’s fiscal first quarter results, which were reported in the middle of February. While the Moline, Illinois company beat Wall Street forecasts with record quarterly earnings, its outlook for full-year 2012 earnings was not as strong as some investors expected. (Reporting by John D. Stoll in Detroit; Additional reporting by Ritika Rai in Bangalore)