Tyne & Wear arable farmer, Peter Alderslade, who is the current British ploughing champion in the reversible class is ready for a 4000-mile transatlantic trip. In August he will travel to Minnesota, USA, where he will compete in the world ploughing championships. It will be his seventh attempt to win an elusive world title.
Peter, who farms 800 acres at East Bolden, Tyne & Wear, competes with a 2004 Valtra A95 and a Kverneland two-furrow reversible plough. “It’s a strong little tractor with a well laid out cab and good visibility to the rear,” says Peter.
As well as choosing machinery to compete at the highest level, he believes that his recent choice of tyres is a fundamental part of achieving the levels of precision the judges look for. In 2018 Peter changed to Continental Tractor 85 tyres and has used them in his last four competitions, including his win at the British championships.
“The tyres have a narrow profile, so they fit the furrows well. With one tractor wheel always in the furrow I have just made, it’s important that I don’t damage it as I plough the next.” The judges mark competitors down for any inconsistencies in the formation of the furrows, especially when there is compaction caused by the tyres.
Peter explains: “In the wet, the soil compacts more easily and if a furrow is broken you leave shiny and dull sides that are obvious to the judges. All of the furrows need to be even and look identical otherwise you lose points.”
Peter’s tyres are more effective in the wet because they have greater flotation. The tyres have greater flexibility which help to spread the weight of his tractor more evenly. “I have watched other competitors sinking into the soil, whilst I have been ploughing successfully. It’s the tyres that make the difference.”
As part of this, careful consideration is given to tyre pressure. In a wet field Peter reduces the pressure to 18 psi which is 25 percent lower than the suggested road pressure. “Reducing the pressure spreads the weight, helps with traction and reduces wheel slip. My tyres also have well-spaced lugs that self-clean, so the soil falls out more easily. I thrive in the wet now.”
There is no prize money up for grabs. Instead Peter enjoys the competition and the network of friends he has made. The world championships take place over 10 days. Peter will compete to plough a triangular space with sides measuring 100 metres, 16 metres and 24 metres. He will be marked on 10 variables which include his time keeping, the straightness of his lines and the consistency of his technique.
Peter will return to Britain on 3rd September. Regardless of his result at the world championships, he will begin preparations for the next British ploughing championships which take place in Lincolnshire on 13th October.