National Ploughing Championships: The nations best ploughmen go head to head

Ploughing is about as synonymous with farming as cattle and shearing. But what many wouldn’t expect is that it can pitch state against state in a desperate struggle.

Hard at work ripping up the dirt.

Hard at work ripping up the dirt.

That struggle is the National Ploughing Championships which sees the best ploughmen from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania competing for a spot in the International Championships.

A ploughman's finishing plans kept safe in his tool box.

A ploughman's finishing plans kept safe in his tool box.

Cowra hosted the National Ploughing Championships on Friday, May 12 and Saturday May, 13 at local farmer’s property, Will Bennett’s “Raintree”.

National Ploughing Championships organiser, Simon Fazzari, said there was some fun poked at each of the states.

Shaun Carson makes a few adjustments to his plough.

Shaun Carson makes a few adjustments to his plough.

“There is a lot (of rivalry), NSW is probably down the bottom end, we like to think we are better then the other states,” he said.

The competitors main tool a two furrow Mouldboard plough.

The competitors main tool a two furrow Mouldboard plough.

“But because we are spread right out, trying to get together and have a ploughing match just for fun is quite hard.

“Where as the Victorians might have a couple of ploughing matches in a year and the Tasmanians they’re ploughing all the time down there.”

A quick adjustment before continuing the competition.

A quick adjustment before continuing the competition.

The event is held over two days, with each competitor having to plough a plot 100 metres long by 20 metres wide with a time limit of three hours to complete.

There are three categories Conventional, Reversible and Vintage with it taking three hours to do a whole plot of championship standard ploughing, 20 minutes for the opening split and two hours 40 minutes to do the general ploughing and finish.

Current Australian Champion Shaun Carson and Victorian State Champion Adrian Tilling said the timing was almost perfect.

Shaun Carson and Adrian Tilling discuss the competitions timing

They said the competition was a good learning experience.

Shaun Carson and Adrian Tilling discuss what they like about the competition

This year’s competition had an extra element of difficulty, being competed on a paddock with straw stubble rather than pasture.

Mr Fazzari said the competitors were constantly being challenged.

Shaun Carson looks over his opening split.

Shaun Carson looks over his opening split.

“It’s been a bit hit and miss. The paddock we’re in has a lot of stubble. Normally the paddock has pasture and it goes under nice and neat, if you haven't got your coulter cutting through and the skimmer set right, it tends to drag between them,” he said.

The secret to competing in this years national championship was having the coulter down far enough and the skimmer set at the right angle.

The secret to competing in this years national championship was having the coulter down far enough and the skimmer set at the right angle.

“One of the secrets is you have to have your coulter down far enough so that it cuts it (the stubble) and the skimmer set at the right angle so it actually picks up off the coulter and flips the stubble over and doesn’t drag it.

“It is a challenge, when you don’t have stubble it’s easy to plough because you don’t have to think about having your skimmer set right, where as if you have stubble you have to work at it. If you don’t you end up with built up lumps of stubble that can’t be buried.”

All three of the men said the competition was judged on the uniformity, cleanliness and straightness of the ploughman’s work.

Shaun Carson and Adrian Tilling discuss the judging of the competition.

What the judges are looking at:

Shaun Carson and Adrian Tilling taking a look at the judges view

But without land to use there can’t be a National Ploughing Championship.

A competitor checks his work during his finish.

A competitor checks his work during his finish.

Mr Fazzari said they had struggled to find a property for the competition.

“It’s very hard to find people who will donate land,” he said.

“But the owners do see a result in the crops they grow afterwards and William has supported us before providing a tractor when we had a ploughing competition.

The competition is a partnership between the land owner and the competitors.

The competition is a partnership between the land owner and the competitors.

“We were looking for good arable soil were there is a lot of depth to the topsoil. On the alluvial flats here there is about six metres of topsoil so we can plough shallow or deep.”

This years National Ploughing Championships was won by Victorian representatives  Shaun Carson, Brett Loughridge and Peter Gardiner.

This years National Ploughing Championships was won by Victorian representatives Shaun Carson, Brett Loughridge and Peter Gardiner.

After two days of competition, three Victorians, Shaun Carson (conventional category), Brett Loughridge (reversible category) and Peter Gardiner (vintage category), were crowned the winners and are headed to the International Championships held in Germany in 2018.