Kiwi ploughing ahead with world title challenge

DIANE BISHOP
Last updated 05:45 14/08/2014
Southland cropping farmer Mark Dillon is set to represent New Zealand at the World Ploughing Championships in France in September.
DIANE BISHOP/Fairfax NZ

BIG TRIP: Southland cropping farmer Mark Dillon is set to represent New Zealand at the World Ploughing Championships in France in September.

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Ploughing a straight furrow is no easy task.

But Southland ploughman Mark Dillon is an expert in his field.

He's regarded as one of the country's top ploughmen and he's set to represent New Zealand at the World Ploughing Championships in France early next month.

"I'm stoked to be representing New Zealand," Dillon said.

Dillon qualified for the event after winning the New Zealand Ploughing Championships at Lincoln, near Christchurch, almost 18 months ago.

His family - including wife Sonia and kids Blaine, 5, Rylan, 3, and Ashlyn, 14 months - will make the journey with him and watch as he competes against 23 of the world's top ploughmen.

Dillon said it would be a challenge making the trip with such a young family, but he was looking forward to having them on the sidelines.

Dillon started vintage ploughing at age 11 before he was encouraged by fellow ploughman Alistair Rutherford to switch to conventional ploughing 13 years ago.

Since then he has travelled the country competing in many ploughing championships and ploughing on different soil types.

It had been a lifelong goal of Dillon's to qualify for the world ploughing championships and he's hoping to do New Zealand proud.

"It's great to finally get there.

"This event is the Olympics of ploughing."

The championships will be in Bordeaux, wine capital of the world, in France's southwest.

However, Dillon won't have much time for wine tasting.

He has about 10 days of practice with his coach Alan Begg before the competition begins on September 5.

Dillon said he was expecting soil conditions to be "quite sandy and dry" in Bordeaux. He will have three hours to plough a 100-metre by 20-metre stubble plot and the following day he will have to repeat the process on a grass plot.

Points would be awarded for straightness, depths of furrows, ins and outs, weed control and seed bed preparation.

Dillon will be competing with a Massey Ferguson tractor, similar to the one he drives at home, and a two-furrow Kverneland plough.

"I will be taking some bits and pieces with me in my suitcase so I can modify the plough."

Dillon's once-in-a-lifetime trip will include sightseeing and a visit to the Massey Ferguson factory near Paris.

"A lot of my friends have used this trip as a good excuse for a holiday."

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- The Southland Times

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