Student Update: Another year at the ‘Ploughing'


Emma McCormack reflects on her ‘Ploughing 2018' experience - travelling 6-hours from Waterford to the site; missing lectures and meeting with various companies.

Student Update: Another year at the ‘Ploughing'

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  • 1 year ago

Emma McCormack reflects on her ‘Ploughing 2018' experience - travelling 6-hours from Waterford to the site; missing lectures and meeting with various companies.

Emma McCormack, a final year Agriculture student is back with her latest update.

Another year of the Ploughing Championships has drawn to a close. An eventful year with Storm Ali doing its utmost to deter farmers in their tens of thousands from descending on Tullamore for the third consecutive year.

The location has been ideal for the majority of people I think, especially those of us hailing from the Midlands. Traffic routes were well-organised and nobody had to suffer for too long.

That's Farming kept me updated on Snapchat on what seemed to be a great day on Tuesday. I headed for Tullamore on Wednesday morning from Waterford.

I was, like many others, presuming the event was going ahead at its later opening time.

I can tell you that the atmosphere in the car going back down to Waterford was tense, after waiting an hour there, to be told that the event was cancelled altogether.

Wasted fuel and time

I was ready to leave this year as a write-off and begin the countdown to' the Ploughing next year; however, the NPA was insistent that the event would recommence for day two on Thursday and the final day on Friday.

It was a late Wednesday night here in college but despite that, we were on the road the following morning and didn't let the Ploughing Championships leave us behind this year regardless of a few sore heads.

The rain came Thursday evening but that didn't bother us too much. It was a day well-spent and a huge attendance, despite the previous day's events and turbulent weather.

Many hours of work were put in by exhibitors, volunteers and the NPA on Wednesday night to get everything back in order after masses of damage from the excessive winds.

It may have been simplest to call the whole event off what with hiring cranes to take down harvesters, tents flying about - ripped to shreds and silos keeling over. It's great that things were fixed up and it resumed as the three-day event we have always known it to be.

Backlash at the NPA

As you'll have heard, there has been a lot of people expressing their anger and disgust at the way things happened on Wednesday.

It may be fair to argue that the event should have been cancelled on Tuesday night, ahead of the storm. There was a lot of time; fuel; and money wasted on Wednesday morning, only for us all to be turned away; however, the bigger picture must be taken into account.

I myself was extremely angry that a 6-hour drive and a number of lectures missed on Wednesday had all been for nothing. That said, safety has to come first and I am grateful that the people and their safety were prioritised by the NPA, despite the potential implications on the profits of exhibitors and the Association itself.

Lives matter more than money, and that really is the bottom line.

Livestock were looked after incredibly well and the event resumed for 2 more days, as planned.

Exhibitors still got their third day to attempt to bring in some capital and justify the money and time spent preparing over the past few months for the Ploughing.

Numbers were down overall along with potentially the profit margin of a lot of companies but we have to remember the planning that goes into an event like this - Europe's largest outdoor event.

The last thing the organisers need is a backlash for the inconvenience caused by an element out of their control - the weather.

Acres upon acres of exhibitions

The variety of goods; services and exhibitors in the arena was excellent. Without a doubt, 'the Ploughing 'offered something for everyone - farmers and non-farmers alike.

I visited as much of it as I could. It's hard to get everything seen in one day. Dairymaster was a worthwhile tent to visit, along with Dúnmasc Genetics, who assisted me in signing up for AI and hoof care courses.

Two most accommodating young woman - Michelle Keena and Laura Phelan - in Progressive Genetics had refreshments for anyone who came in, and there was a myriad of literature and professionals on hand to discuss breeding matters.

Moocall was another stand very worth stopping into, with new jackets on offer that were hard to leave behind, as well as their breeding and calving products for sale.

Whether you wanted to learn about grass; livestock; machinery or dairy technology - you couldn't be short of people to talk to. I have a good stack of literature to get through over the next week or two.

High points

I looked in fascination at the newest robots milking dairy cows, and I saw the most modern rotary parlours of today, in all of their shining glory. It all comes at a price and I wouldn't know where to start if I was ready to invest.

I'm told that a robotic rotary is in production currently and it's the future. De Laval have already been testing the waters there. It will be interesting to see this out.

I was well impressed by the young Drumm boys of Westmeath with a prototype designed to let cows onto fresh pasture robotically. Grasstec and Grasshopper were another two innovative stands I took valuable information from.

Everyone at the Ploughing Championships will tell you they are selling you their product at the very best price.

They'll assure you that their product works flawlessly and that it's the best on the market. It's a great place to quiz the so-called experts and to see what's available in the agricultural industry at the moment.

I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and I must add my congratulations to James Shine - a fellow Kildalton student who had a huge performance with his ploughing win on Tuesday.

People often forget that there is actual ploughing matches to watch, as well as everything else!

All was not lost

The whole affair was not a total disaster anyhow, and we are unsure as to where all roads will lead to next year. Hopefully, the weather doesn't let us down but just like this year - we will tip on either way. Only 12-months until we go at it again!

Having never missed a year for as long as I can remember, it may not have been the best Ploughing match to recall but it was definitely worth the trek, as always.

I reckon it was worth missing college for, but time will tell me that... Having bumped into a few lecturers there, I'm not too worried, although, I was never too worried, to begin with!

It was a learning experience, in my eyes.

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