Country’s best ploughers to compete at national champs

More than 40 ploughers from around the country will descend on Mid Canterbury this month to compete in the 2019 New Zealand Ploughing Championships.

The championships, which will take place on 11th and 12th May at Wilkinson’s Farm in Chertsey, will bring together the winners from more than 20 qualifying events.

There are four classes in the competition – the Gulf Oil Silver Plough Conventional, Farmlands Fuel Reversible Plough, Rural News Horse Plough and the Agricentre South New Holland Vintage Plough. Day one of the championships will be the stubble competition, while day two will be the grassland competition.

Those taking part in the Gulf Oil Silver Plough and Farmlands Fuel Reversible will be competing for spots to represent New Zealand at the world competition in Russia next year. The annual competition, which changes location every year, is being hosted by the Rakaia Ploughing Match Association this year. It will be the 64th time the event has been held. John Davison, who is chairman of the organising committee, says with good weather they hope several thousand people will attend and watch the action. He says while all the events make good viewing, people love coming to see the Clydesdale horse ploughing. John says they are grateful to the Wilkinson family for lending their land to be used for the competition.

“It’s about 40ha we’re taking out of their farming rotation. It’s a big commitment from them and if we didn’t have the assistance from people like this around the country it would grind to a halt.” Forty-three ploughers will compete at the championships. Among them will be Timaru truck driver and ploughing stalwart, Bob Mehrtens in the Farmlands Fuel Reversible competition, in what will be his 42nd time at this event. John Hall, who is part of the Rakaia

Ploughing Match Association, says Wilkinson’s Farm is a great place to hold the competition because they know what the ground is like – and it is close to Ashburton and Rakaia. “We know the soil will plough well.” He says there will also be trade displays and the Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club will have a machinery display at the event. Three tractors – the largest a 525hp Versatile – will also plough a grass paddock next to the event, which will then be cultivated and sown with wheat for people to watch, he says. This year’s championships will also see a separate category for young farmers. Wilkinson’s Farm is a sheep and crop farm, just under 600ha, which has been owned by the Wilkinson family since 1876.

It is now in the hands of Kate Wilkinson, who is a fifth-generation family member and former National MP. Kate says while the farm has hosted local ploughing events before, this will be by far the largest. “I think it will be quite fun for a lot of people to come out and watch.” She says old Clydesdale horse shoes were often ploughed up on the property, so she hopes that might happen at the event. “We’re always ploughing them up. It would be quite neat if that could happen.”

Ploughing has had a long affiliation with the Mid Canterbury area, with records showing it first started back in 1890. Wilkinson’s Farm is located on Wilkinsons Road, Chertsey. Entry to the event is free for children and costs $10 for adults, which can be paid at the gate.