Prestigious ploughing contests underway near York

The 63rd World Ploughing Contest is taking place near York.  Pictures: Bruce Rollinson
The 63rd World Ploughing Contest is taking place near York. Pictures: Bruce Rollinson
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An age-old agricultural skill is being showcased by the very best in the business from across the country at farmland near York.

Tractor engines have been purring near the village of Crockey Hill as four days of seriously competitive ploughing is now underway.

Bryony Gill from St Austell, Cornwall, competing in the Horse Ploughing with Rushton Hornsby Angel and Bravelad.

Bryony Gill from St Austell, Cornwall, competing in the Horse Ploughing with Rushton Hornsby Angel and Bravelad.

For those not accustomed with this grand spectacle of agricultural skill, the event in question is the British National Ploughing Championships. And if this two-day competition which continues tomorrow constitutes the Premier League of ploughing, the subsequent action that lies ahead this weekend can only be billed as the World Cup.

After perfect lines have been ploughed through the soil today, the same 500-acre plot off the A19 is being given over to the British championship’s daddy - the World Ploughing Contest.

More than 250 ploughmen and women from across Britain are vying for the top spots in the national competition. Held in a different part of the country each year, this time competitors will be trying to win a place at the 2017 World Ploughing Contest in Kenya.

Young farmers are tasked with ploughing in three different classes, hoping to show they are the champions of the future, and vintage machinery enthusiasts will see the best trailed, hydraulic and classic competitors in the country alongside traditional ‘high cut’ tractor ploughing and classes for Ferguson, Ford and Fordson and David Brown tractors.

Come Saturday and it will be the turn of ploughmen and women from 31 different countries - from across Europe, South Africa, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia - to showcase their own talents in the World Ploughing Contest with the world champions set to be declared late on Sunday evening.

The showdown pits competitors using conventional and reversible ploughs across stubble terrain on the Saturday and grassland the following day.

Also this weekend, the first World Vintage Ploughing Championships will be held.

Sue Frith, a member of the Society of Ploughmen which has organised the four day event, said: “Everyone is so excited World Ploughing 2016 is coming to York this year as it won’t be held here again for quite some years.

“Spectators can see how farming has changed over the last 300 or so years and there’s plenty to interest everyone.”

Over all four days, visitors can enjoy a steam cultivation spectacular, organised by the Steam Plough Club which is celebrating its 50th anniversary year.

Dick Eastwood, secretary of the Steam Plough Club, said: “We are delighted to be working together with the Society of Ploughmen and the opportunity to present steam cultivation alongside other traditional and modern forms at what will surely be a most memorable event.”

A Century of Mechanised Agriculture is the theme for a display and demonstration of vintage tractors and equipment. Many tractor clubs have joined in to show the machinery which would have been found on farms during the past century.

The central part of the site is dedicated to trade stands for a wide variety of agricultural and farming businesses and next to these, are the smaller shopping and crafts stalls.

Hobson Farming Limited is hosting the event and there will be local competitors taking part in this weekend’s international contests, including David Chappell from Hatfield, near Doncaster, and John Milnes, of Penistone, near Sheffield.