On 1 and 2 September, excited about the first Ploughing World Cup hosted in Germany in 20 years, more than 60 ploughers from 32 countries arrived with their tractors to pit their skills in stubble and grassland ploughing. The age of the participants ranged from 16 to 65 years, among them Florian Sander from Bötersen in Lower Saxony. The German beet ploughing champion of 2016 came armed with a Fendt 210 Vario sponsored by ZG Raiffeisen Technik GmbH.
"The wonderful thing about this tractor is its special features, like the TMS transmission control," says the 28-year-old electrical engineer. "I can accelerate right up to the speed I want, and the cruise control gives me a second speed to fall back on – which is great for switchovers. The amazing hydraulics on the Vario are perfect for performance ploughing competitions."
The young German got his tractor licence aged just 15, and has taken part in the ploughing competition sever since. He also happens to have the biggest fan group.
"When I get here in the morning and the first fans are already there waving their flags, it's an awesome feeling and sets me up for riding up front".
Picture gallery: Participant, Florian Sander
In the competition, the performance ploughers each have to use one rotary and one beet plough, with no more than 2-3 ploughshares. Lane guidance systems are not allowed, of course.
Ploughing begins as the master furrow is cut. Judges are looking for a uniform depth and width and uniform soil ridges showing along the full length of the furrow. Weeds and vegetation must be cut off and cleaned out of the furrow. The judges spend hours meticulously examining every furrow of every participant's 0.2 ha of ploughed field.
Picture gallery: Competition
Ploughing past and present
As well as the ploughing, there is a live demonstration of the long history of agricultural ploughing. Steam ploughing and soil processing with horses give the spectators an impression of how difficult, time consuming and laborious farming used to be.
"The plough settings are no different in tractor ploughing than they were in horse ploughing, even in the early days of tractor ploughing," says Peter Baumgärtner, Head of AgroTraining at Lemken, explaining the tillage process. "We still have to adjust the width of the plough's front furrow, drag line and inclination, only today it's so much easier. And if we look at the Jewel 8 plough behind me here, all the settings are done on the Vario terminal via the ISOBUS in the cab."
Lempken, the main sponsor of the Ploughing World Cup, demonstrates the practical side of modern tillage with Fendt. Several practical field demonstrations of the various hook-ups are given throughout the day to the interested crowd.
Picture gallery: Field demonstrations by Lemken & Fendt
"We had a lot of hard rain again yesterday. We adjusted the tyre pressure to 0.8 bar to get a large contact surface on the tyres and our tyre pressure control system provides for the ultimate transfer of tractive power. On the terminal we can easily adjust the air pressure to the conditions," explains Jochen Riexinger, Sales Engineer at Fendt. "It's important when ploughing that the drag/position control is set correctly. The rear hitch has force measuring bolts – when there's resistance, the plough picks up and the tractor pulls the plough smoothly through the soil."
Second day: grassland ploughing
On the second day, the weather gods showed no mercy to the performance ploughers. Even performance plougher Florian Sander had to adjust his plough to the rain. Despite the sub-optimal conditions, he put in a brave performance finishing in 14th place. A good result in the face of such strong international competition. Unfortunately there were no extra points for the best fan club.
More on the 65th Ploughing World Cup in moving pictures at: