The competition

Ploughing looks easy from a distance. But anyone who has tried their hand at ploughing quickly learns that this is not the case. The plough, a tool that moves along three axes – forwards, sideways, up and down – reacts to the slightest change in settings or soil.

The challenges that the ploughing competitors will face are packed into 0.2 hectares – so many obstacles in such a small space, in fact, that even a larger plot would be easier to plough. The World Ploughing Organisation’s (WPO) rule book contains the following regulations:

  • Max. 2 participants per nation
  • Stubble and grassland competitions, each with reversible and conventional ploughs
  • Max. 2 to 3 shares per plough
  • Max. 3 wheels on each side of reversible ploughs
  • Markers, GPS systems, etc. are not allowed
  • Competition area for conventional ploughs 100 x 20 metres (0.2 hectares)
  • Competition area for reversible ploughs 100 x 24 metres on one end and 16 metres on the other (0.2 hectares)
  • Competition duration: 3 hours
  • The plough depth may deviate by +/- 2.5 cm

The following criteria of the ploughing will be judged using a scoring system:

Conventional plough:
The opening split

Once the opening split is made, the ploughing officially begins. The opening split serves the purpose of achieving the main aim of weeding and planting crops, even in the first full furrow. This means that it has to be cut all the way down the entire length. The requirements are an even depth and width as well as the consistency of the resulting ridges of soil along the entire length of the furrow. All weeds and crops must be trimmed and cleanly removed from the furrow. This is the only way to ensure that conventional ploughs make the connecting back or closing pass thick and firm enough to be stepped on. The opening split must be absolutely straight; if the starting furrow is not straight, the following furrows may be double ploughed or be left with unploughed sections. The competition allows a timeframe of 20 minutes for the opening split to be cut.

Reversible plough:
Ploughing a wedge

Due to the trapezoid shape of the reversible ploughing plot, a wedge must be ploughed along the headland. This must be done in such a way that all of the soil has been ploughed, that there are no holes or bumps and that nothing has been double ploughed. The transition from wedge to headland must comply with all of the requirements of neat ploughing. The first continuous furrow on the wedge must be absolutely straight and perfectly formed along the entire length. It should match the furrows of the rest of the bed in shape and size.

The closing/back pass

The closing pass must be completely parallel to the rest of the bed. Both gable furrows must be as flat and close together as possible. The subsequent rounds are ploughed more deeply. An even field is achieved during the second circuit due to the greater amount of soil that is churned up.

Conventional and reversible plough:
Straight furrows

Straight furrows shall be judged a total of four times: at the opening split, the closing pass, general work and the final furrow.

Overall impression

The furrow turns must be neat and even. The furrows must be close together at a 135 degree angle. The grassland furrows must be compact and firm enough to step on, and the stubble furrows must be lightly heaped. Points will be deducted for irregularities and holes. Grass and stubble must be visibly and neatly ploughed back.

Scattering pass and final furrow

When judging the final furrow, which remains open, the last furrows on the left and right are also taken into account. The final furrows must be straight and run exactly parallel to the back pass. The last furrows next to the open final furrow must have enough soil so that they can be filled properly. The depth must be chosen so that a neatly cut final furrow remains and, at the same time, that proper weeding is ensured. The final furrows must form a cohesive bigger picture with the previous furrows and they may not be at a different level to the furrow in front. Only one wheel mark may be visible. Points will be deducted for any other wheel marks. If the depth wheel is used, this must run within the wheel mark.

Setting out and lifting

The plough must set out and be lifted precisely at the border of the plot. There should not be any clods of earth on the headland. The overall appearance should be consistent. Care should be taken that ploughs with multiple shares need a certain margin.

Depth measuring

The required furrow depth shall be announced before ploughing. It must be kept within a margin of +/- 2.5 cm and shall be measured by a special group of judges at several positions in the plot.


Scoring system:

Particular aspects Criteria Max. score
1 Opening split Completeness of the cut and even width along the entire length of the furrow 10
2 Back pass No visible stubble, grass, or weeds, no wheel marks 10
3 Back pass All furrows should be of equal height and width, with no holes or bumps 10
4 Weed control No visible stubble, grass, or weeds, no wheel marks 10
5 Stratification and restabilisation Clods are firm and stable, no visible holes, no wheel marks 10
6 Seed bed preparation Enough ground for subsequent seed bed preparation 10
7 Uniformity of furrows All furrows of equal height and width, no visible coupling 10
8 Lowering and lifting Quick and even setting out, everything ploughed, no wheel marks 10
9 Final furrow Tidiness and weeding 10
10 Final furrow Closed and even final furrow, visible back pass 10
11 Straight lines Four measurements: Opening split, back pass, straight lines in the whole plot and final furrow 10
12 Miscellaneous appearance All aspects of good arable work 10

Additional criteria in reversible ploughing:

  Particular aspects Criteria Max. score
  Ploughing a wedge Completely cut through furrows, no holes or bumps 10
  Ploughing a wedge Furrows at equal intervals connecting to the wedge 10

Points will be deducted for:

  Particular aspects Criteria Max. score
  Tractor wheel mark More than one tractor wheel mark in the final furrow -10
  Time penalties Every new minute over time during the opening split -2
  Time penalties Every new minute over time at the end of the competition -2
  Conventional ploughs Final furrow not turned in on its on closing pass -10
  Conventional ploughs More than one idle run -10
  Serious violations of the rules Inappropriate behaviour, violations of the general safety regulations shall be penalised by the head judge with a deduction of points