15 September 2000

IRISH FOCUS

BIGGEST AND THE BEST…

AS by far the biggest event in Irelands farming calendar, the 2000 Ploughing Championships on Sept 26-28 will be drawing visitors from all over the country and beyond.

The bare statistics take some visualising: 200 acres of level land devoted to plots for the 310 competitors taking part in the match ploughing event, hoping for success in 12 national finals.

Working demonstrations of tractors and tillage and other machinery take up another 30 acres, the vast trade exhibits area (including an auto arena, livestock and forestry exhibits) accounts for another 60 acres, and 300 acres of ground is on hand to accommodate the thousands of cars, trucks and 4x4s that will be driven by visitors to the event.

Last years hopelessly wet conditions, which failed to dampen the spirits or determination of visitors set on having a good day out, will not be missed if it proves a dry and sunny week.

The events brave co-hosts at Ballacolla, Co Laois, are neighbours David Lalor and Robin Talbot. It will all be familiar for David, however, who hosted the championships on its previous visit to the county five years ago.

To reflect current trends in cultivation, the championships will have increased emphasis on the reversible plough this year. Traditional as it is to use a one-way or conventional mouldboard implement, match ploughing needs to reflect commercial practice and experience to some extent if new competitors are to be encouraged.

This is also the aim of the National Ploughing Associations Millennium Development Programme, a campaign to encourage clubs to include specially-devised novice competitions in local matches.

Under the scheme, experienced competitors lend their specially prepared ploughs and tractors to beginners, and provide appropriate coaching for club matches.

The response has been positive, says the NPA, with new names coming to the national championships as a result of the initiative.

At this years event, competitors under 28-years-old will perform on Tue, Sept 26 and seniors on the following day. The 10 competitors qualifying from these classes will compete on Thursday for the grand prize – a Kverneland reversible plough, presented by the manufacturer and valued at £18,000.

Trade stands and machinery demonstrations make this the biggest equipment event of the year. Right: Match ploughing at last years championship event.

Match plough secrets revealed 6

Improving crop margins forgreater profit 7

Conception rates on a slide 8

Heavy kit costs yields 9

Two manufacturers – their routes to success 10

Autumn calving can boost income 14

Harvesting potatoes – gently 15

Edited by Andy Collings

SHOWINFO

When 26-28 Sept.

9am Show opens.

10.30am Ploughing competitions commence.

2.30pm Ploughing competitions end.

6pm Competition results announced.

6.30pm Show closes

Ticket information Adult £7; student/OAP £5; car parking free.

How to get there

Event venue is on the outskirts of Ballacolla on the Abbeyleix-Rathdowney Road. National approach roads include the N8, N7, N10 and N6. Distance from Dublin 70 miles, Rosslare 80 miles, Cork Airport 102 miles, Limerick 61 miles, Belfast 167 miles.