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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
They said the competition was a good learning experience.
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.
“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.
“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.
What the judges are looking at:
But without land to use there can’t be a National Ploughing Championship.
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.
“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.”
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.