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.
Normally, about now, we would expect a dedicated team of keen volunteers to be working hard at getting one of the biggest shows of its kind up and running.
Over 120 ploughing plots all carefully measured and numbered. The marquee with its four huge sections for home crafts, members, rural crafts and beer tent.
The car parks, all carefully plotted out and ring fenced. Over 600 meters of trade stands all carefully allocated to the agricultural dealers, rural crafts and a myriad of other stands. the 80m x 80m main arena.
Bales, trailers, a hundred signs, bins, PA system, secretaries tent, road signs, a huge working area full of steam and bygones….. The list is endless.
But instead we are at home. Doing our bit to stay safe in these difficult times.
A huge hole in our calender that is missed by many thousands of you A covid casualty.
When we took the decision to cancel the match it was a difficult one. Who knew back in June whether we would be out of this mess and ready to get on with our lives?
The decision was made correctly. Clearly there is no way the show could have been staged this year.
But… we’ll be back next year. The spectacle that is the FFF&B ploughing match and Country Show is not dead… just resting!