Farmers go head-to-head in 60th ploughing match at Sopley
OVERNIGHT downpours created perfect conditions as local farmers and agricultural workers went head-to-head in an annual ploughing match at Sopley at the weekend.
Organised by Lymington Growmore Club, South Avon and Stour Agricultural Society and the young farmers’ clubs of Brockenhurst, Avon and Beaulieu, the 60th annual competition attracted 42 entries in various classes including conventional, reversible and vintage machinery.
This year’s contest took place at Sopley Field in Derritt Lane and featured demonstration ploughing classes as well as competitions. The ground conditions were very good despite having the driest year on record, helped by long-awaited rain and downpours the day before.
Joint ploughing match secretary Tania Niccolls said: “We had perfect warm and sunny spells on the day, which brought out plenty of support from the public who came and watched the ploughmen in action by walking around the site and enjoying the tractor and trailer rides.
“This is an amazing age-old traditional agricultural event that brings the community together!”
Competition classes saw experienced ploughmen compete against a new generation of younger farmers testing their skills, with all contested classes attracting a high calibre of entrants.
Tania added: “The tractors ranged from large modern-day tractors with six-furrow reversible ploughs to 80-year old vintage tractors and trailer ploughs.
“This year was a tough competition as there was a good number of very skilled ploughmen who entered.”
The club classes included members of the Lymington Growmore Club and South Avon and Stour Agricultural Society, who battled it out for the champion of the day.
Tania said: “We had lots of support including seven entries from the Isle of Wight, which had the added challenge of getting their tractors to and from the match via a ferry journey. Others came from surrounding counties and as far as Swanage and Winchester.”
The overall Lymington Growmore Club Champion of the day was Peter Niccolls of Brockenhurst, who has been ploughing since he was a young farmer at Beaulieu.
Brian Perrett of Wimborne was awarded champion of the day, Stuart Slocombe grabbed the Lymington Growmore Club champion of the day, and the club's reserve champion was Peter Niccolls. The South Avon and Stour Agricultural Society reserve champion went to Oliver Morgan of Lymington.
“This year we are raising money for the Fortune Centre for Riding Therapy at Avon Tyrrell and some students from the charity attended the match with two Shetland ponies Cyril and Cedric,” Tania said.