Local farmers head to Croatia for world plowing championships
Three weeks after the closing of the London Olympics, two local farmers will be crossing the Atlantic to represent Canada in a centuries-old competition that demands precision, skill, but not a whole...
Mark Brodhaecker (left) and Brian Fried stand near Brodhaecker's tractor and plow on his Cambridge farm. The friends are heading to Croatia to represent Canada in the world plowing championships.
WATERLOO REGION — Three weeks after the closing of the London Olympics, two local farmers will be crossing the Atlantic to represent Canada in a centuries-old competition that demands precision, skill, but not a whole lot of speed.
On Sept. 14 and 15, Mark Brodhaecker of Ayr and Brian Fried of
Bright, Ont., will be pulling their
plows across the grass-specked soils of Biograd Na Moru, Croatia, as part of the 59th World Plowing Championships.
The pair will be scrutinized as to how straight, deep and uniform they can dig furrows (troughs) into a set plot of land near the small Dalmatian town on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea.
“The judge will be able to look down the furrows and see if they’re straight, is all the grass covered (by soil), that sort of stuff,” said Brodhaecker.
“We’re given a scorecard, much like figure skating.”
Competitors are given three hours and forty minutes to tow their plows carefully through the plot.
Participants break the competition down to a careful science, complete with its own jargon.
Brodhaecker and Fried will have to pull off a pristine “Opening Split” and execute a proper “Crown” if they want to score higher than the 59 other competitors travelling to face off against them in the Balkan nation next month.
Both of them say they were introduced to the rural sport at the age of 10.
“It’s like any other type of sport,” Fried said. “You just get an interest in it. My father and grandfather used to plow at the local matches.”
Fried, who works a plot of land near Roseville which will serve as part of the grounds for the 2012 International Plowing Match this September, said he and Brodhaecker will have to use borrowed tractors at the event. They plan to arrive in Croatia on Sept. 4.
Brodhaecker said shipping their own tractors to Croatia, which would help as they are more familiar with them, would cost around $25,000 a piece. “Somebody is donating tractors for us.”
Meanwhile, many of the Europeans in the competition will pay to ship their tractors anywhere in the world.
“It’s like the Olympics for them,” Fried said.
“A lot of these countries take it very, very seriously,” Brodhaecker adds. “A lot more so than what Canada is used to.”
In Waterloo Region and many other places around the world with light soil, plowing has fallen out of favour, as modern planting implements are able to plant corn and wheat in soil that hasn’t been tilled.
“We try to conserve moisture by not plowing (the soil),” Fried said. Even so, he said plowing isn’t going to disappear just yet.
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