Ploughing is still the prime job in cultivation the earth and, despite this high technological and computerised age, the basic design of the plough remains largely unchanged since medieval times. There are several types of plough but all are based on the same principle, with share, coulter and mouldboard. The 'Digger' plough has a short mouldboard and an acute curve causing the furrow slice to rise steeply and accelerate thereby shattering the soil. This is known as 'broken furrow' work.
The more common type of plough is the 'general purpose' with a longer and shallower and more gentle curved mouldboard. This will lay up furrows in the 'Whole Furrow' fashion
By far the most intricate style of ploughing is the 'High Cut' or 'Oat Seed Furrow'. The plough has a very long convex mouldboard with a gentle twist and uses special shares to set up narrow, high crested furrow slices. In competition this plough is set within tolerances of a quarter of an inch.
Ploughing Matches have been part of the rural scene since time immemorial and in the early days a champion ploughman could expect a better wage than his fellows. Competition was keen and made for accurate plough settings. Plough manufacturers saw the advantages of scientific design that would decrease the physical effort. Today we see a continuance of this search for perfection and Plough Match judges look critically for furrows that are perfectly straight, evenly matched, and completely level. The judges will mark each plot up to a possible 200 points, divided into five sections of maximum of 40 points each.
The Start of Crown should be straight and level with no gap between the first two opposing furrows. Firmness is very important; the work should not be hollow or puffy and there should be no 'holes' between the furrow slices. The Seedbed is judged by the quantity of soil presented by the plough on each furrow slice. The work should not be flat, neither should any stubble or trash be visible between the furrows. General Appearance of the ploughed plot should be straight, uniform and perfectly matched furrows of equal width and even depth. The Finish should be straight, narrow and shallow. This is probably the most difficult part to perform since the work must be brought to a conclusion perfectly parallel.