By MICHELLE SLATER.
A POOWONG father-and-son team are ploughing ahead in their field, after they both won titles in the National Ploughing Association of Australia championships held in Tasmania in June.
Brett and Scott Loughridge are off to represent Australia in the world championships next year after Scott won the conventional ploughing class and his dad took out the reversible ploughing division.
The latest success is Scott’s third conventional national title, and Brett’s sixth reversible title on top of five conventional awards, taking Brett to his 12th world championship.
Mr Loughridge said competitors had to plough a 100-by-20 metre plot in three hours, judged on the opening split, the crown and general finish.
“It’s to promote good cultivation methods so you can produce a good weed-free seed bed without chemicals and help preserve the soil,” Mr Loughridge said.
“Humus is retained and turned under and breaks down underneath, producing good conditions for the next crop. It’s gentle on the soil and in one pass you can produce a weed-free seed bed.
“It’s this four-to-six inches of topsoil that feeds the world..
Mr Loughridge said Scott grew up on the tractor and began ploughing at 16, with the now 23-year-old going on to win three national titles in a row.
“He has good attention to detail and a good demeanor, if something goes wrong you can’t get rattled. It’s all done by eye,” he said.
The Loughridge family runs 650 dairy cows on their 300-hectare property, where they Mould Board the soil to plant crops such as brassica and maize for their cattle.
Mr Loughridge said this method was slower but resulted in a better yield and a weed-free crop, with better moisture retention and less fuel consumption.
The pair were part of a contingent of four other Gippslanders to compete in the Apple Isle, on the same site where Mr Loughridge took part in his first national competition in 1991.
Both Brett and Scott will be taking part in the state championships in Ballarat this month, before heading overseas where there will an added challenge of using foreign machinery..
“We don’t have many ploughing competitions in Australia, but in many Europe countries they plough every other weekend,” Mr Loughridge said.
“In Gippsland, we have the Gippsland Ploughing Association and more representatives ploughing on the world level than any other state, we’ve had some good ploughmen to pass skills on.”