Friday, 19 February 2016 12:25

All set to go!

Written by 
Chairman of the NZ Ploughing organising committee, Paul Henson. Chairman of the NZ Ploughing organising committee, Paul Henson.

Manawatu is gearing up to showcase the country's premier ploughmen and ploughwomen in April.

The Manawatu Ploughing Match Association committee organising the 61st New Zealand Ploughing Championships reports its hard work and planning is coming to fruition.

The NZ Ploughing Champs will be held at Penny Road Rongotea, near Palmerston North from April 16-17 on the property of Paul and Debbie Henson and will be open for the public to attend.

"We have been planning for two years, organising trade displays, parking, a tractor pull competition, a display of vintage tractors and military vehicles and craft stalls," the organising committee chairman Paul Henson told Rural News.

There are four divisions: conventional, sponsored by Case IH; reversible, sponsored by Farmlands Fuel; vintage, sponsored by Mainland Minerals; and horse ploughing, sponsored by Rural News Group.

All entrants will plough a section of stubble on the first day and the same size section of grass on the second day.

Henson reports the barley crop now being grown will be harvested in early March to give an even cover of stubble, while the grass area is being grazed – again to give even cover. The soil is Milson silt loam with 175-200 mm black type soil over clay.

Ten hectares on an adjacent farm will be available for a practice area for competitors to use for two days before the competition starts.


Ploughing in his blood

Paul Henson is the fourth generation to farm on the Rongotea property and has been ploughing for 20 years "following in the footsteps of my dad".

He started with a conventional Kverneland plough and changed to a reversible plough five years ago. With a conventional plough he has achieved one win and two seconds at NZ finals and with a reversible he has had two wins at finals level.

Henson has represented NZ at six world finals, competing in Denmark, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania. His best result was third at the world championships at Methven in 2010.

He is also a fan of plastic mouldboards on his plough.

"They give less resistance to various soils; they wear well and can be altered fractionally when competing."

As well as chairing the organising committee, Paul and his wife Debbie this year converted their farm from sheep and beef to milking goats. "We started in August with 750 with the long term aim to milk 1200."

The goats are all housed and fed by "cut and carry".

The milk is held at 2.5oC and collected three times a week for trucking by insulated tanker to Hamilton for processing. There are five milking goat farms in Manawatu.


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