Southern ploughmen take podium

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Two Waimea Plains Ploughing Association members achieved high scores at the national championships, held earlier this month.

The men, Mark Dillon and Murray Baird, placed third in their sections at the event held in Seddon, Marlborough.

Mr Dillon, a crop farmer from Riversdale, competed in the conventional plough event.

“I’ve been involved in the association about 22 years and competing for 12,” he said.

“I enjoy the conventional plough as you need to constantly adjust due to varying soil. It takes lots of practice to prepare.”

Mr Dillon, who often helps organise the event, said the competition “rolled on pretty well” with similar numbers to last year.

“It was a well-run event, and the ground was in good condition.

“We’ve been quite lucky not to be affected by Covid.”

Numbers in general had eased off over the years, especially as not so many young people were coming through, he said.

One of the highlights of the events was catching up with members of the New Zealand Ploughing Association from all over the country.

“The last competition in Marlborough was around 12 years ago and it was good to be back in the area,” Mr Dillon said.

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Backwards and forwards…Murray Baird placed third in reversible ploughing, a skill that requires ploughmen to turn the plough back and forwards, working across the field. Photo: NOEL SHEAT

Mr Baird, a farmer from Balfour, competed in the reversible ploughing event.

“I’ve been ploughing since I was 12,” Mr Baird said.

“Reversible ploughing requires you to start from one side and turn the plough back and forwards, working your way from across, a skill that comes with practice,” he said.

He really enjoyed the challenge and meeting people from across the association, which gave a sense of fellowship.

Both men said the best practice came from competing in local competitions.

“There are eight local competitions across Southland, South Otago and upwards towards Palmerston throughout the year,” Mr Baird said.

The majority of competitors are farmers and transport operators, but both men said that they would love to see more young people give the competition a go.

“Most ploughmen are not the type to sit back and watch a young person struggling with the plough and are more than willing to show how it’s done,” Mr Baird said.

Next year’s championships will be held in Milton.