• Sweden's news in English

World's farmers draw blades for Swedish ploughing showdown

The Local · 13 May 2011, 14:48

Published: 13 May 2011 14:48 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Competitors representing a slew of different nations will flock to Östergötland in central Sweden to plough Sweden's soil in the various categories that make up the competition, and the cultured art of ploughing a perfect field.

Ploughers compete in two categories - conventional and reversible* - and display a specialisation honed from years of practice on the home fields.

“They’ve trained for years. I mean, you have to be the national champion in your country to compete in the world championship... So, it’s many, many competitions and many, many hours to get as far as this,” WRC project manager Annika Altnäs tells The Local.

This year’s event, to be held May 13th-14th at Lindevad’s Manor in the rural county of Östergötland, will feature 58 competitors from 29 nations, including Australia, England, Kenya, Macedonia, Sweden, and the United States.

While the ploughers are judged on a set of precision criteria based on the straightness, evenness and depth of their trench, Annika Altnäs, explained that there is a greater significance to the competition than digging furrows.

First held in 1953, the World Ploughing Championship (WPC), emerged in a world still reeling from the effects of WWII and the challenge of feeding a world devastated by conflict.

“Farmers all over the world, especially those in Europe at that time, joined in a peaceful action to be head of and have a brotherhood to work, improve and produce food,” Altnäs says.

The competition keeps that post-war spirit alive, she adds:

"To symbolize the production of food for everybody…for something that everybody needs."

She explained that concerns over global food production remain relevant today and the annual exchange of a "Can of Peace" to the host farm serves to remind contestants and spectators of the competition's origins.

“Everybody in the world needs to eat and somebody has to produce it."

Despite the broader implications, the practice of ploughing remains very much a precision exercise and the secret to success is a closely guarded secret, Altnäs explains.

“I think they all have their secrets, like all sportsmen. This is a sport. Like, how do the best tennis players perform the best backhands? That’s the same kind of question.”

While Annika Altnäs is the first to admit that competitive ploughing isn’t necessarily what some would consider the most riveting spectator sport, after attending numerous ploughing competitions over the past few years, she has come to have a deeper appreciation for the ancient art of digging a shallow trench.

"It's exciting," she says.

And what does the winner ultimately receive for the countless hours he or she has spent toiling with tractor and soil to develop this skill?

“A lot of glory,” Altnäs says, adding:

Story continues below…

“A trophy that goes to a new person and country every year... It’s like a sculpture of a man with a plough, an old-fashioned plough… some countries, they have sponsored prizes… But you won’t become a millionaire, no.”

Sweden has a long involvement in the history of competitive ploughing, hosting its first agrarian showdown as far back as 1836.

While back then competitors deployed horse-drawn ploughs, the 2011 event will be a far noisier affair with the hum of powerful tractor engines replace the grazing steeds of yore.

*Conventional ploughing, still used in 85 percent of farm production today, is the old-fashioned method of ploughing in which a plougher must turn with his or her tractor and make wide circles in order to change direction.

Reversible plowing, a more modern technique involving complicated technology, however allows the plougher to simply switch the direction of the plough on the tractor itself, avoiding the hassle of turning.

Anita Badejo

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

13:30 May 14, 2011 by Swedesmith
In honor of the competition, I plan to get plowed (ploughed for you Brits) this weekend.
02:13 May 15, 2011 by MichiganLady
Hah. I don't know much about professional plowing, but I do enjoy a story here that doesn't necessarily take place in one of the 3 cities.
11:35 May 16, 2011 by BrittInSweden
"WRC project manager Annika Altnäs tells The Local." What is the Project Manager of World Rally Championships doing there? :)
16:24 May 16, 2011 by Tanskalainen
When they said "ploughing competition" I showed up with some lubricant.
02:49 May 17, 2011 by Da Goat
Shame that ploughing is a thing of the past, we now do zero till farming to conserve the earth. It is a grand old pastime!
Today's headlines
Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter
A Donald Trump campaign button. Photo: Rogelio V Solis/AP

The Local talks to an American Donald Trump supporter on what it is like living in progressive stronghold Sweden.

Forgotten Ingmar Bergman script to be made into a film
It's thought the script was part of an ill-fated collaboration between Bergman (left) and Federico Fellini (right). Photo: AP

Written in 1969, the script is 'up to the standard of his best', according to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.

Sweden's consumption footprint 'among the worst'
Trucks transporting goods on a Swedish highway. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden has been criticized for its unsustainable consumption of the planet's resources in the latest edition of a major WWF study.

Video: How to be Joel Kinnaman for a day
Kinnaman with one of the camera rigs that will allow people inside his head. Photo: Tele2

The Swedish Hollywood actor will strap a camera to his head, stream it live and allow viewers to interact with him this weekend.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
How Stockholm's cold climate boosts creativity
Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Do long, dark winters actually make Swedes more creative and more productive? We spoke to Stockholm startups to find out.

Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Presented by Stockholm University
9 unexpected programmes at Stockholm University
Photo: Niklas Björling

Did you know Stockholm University offers 75 master's programmes taught in English? And some of them are programmes you won't find anywhere else...

Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available