Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Carter family 'excited' to be hosts for 2013 championships

Laois farm ready to welcome Ploughing

Anna May McHugh (NPA managing director) with host family David, Shirley, Howard (left) and Clive Carter (right) at the launch of the 82nd National Ploughing Championships
Anna May McHugh (NPA managing director) with host family David, Shirley, Howard (left) and Clive Carter (right) at the launch of the 82nd National Ploughing Championships
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The Carter family have the honour of hosting the 2013 Ploughing Championships on their beef and cereal farm at Ratheniska, near Stradbally, Co Laois.

They have been resident in the community since David Carter bought the 125ac farm there many decades ago.

Ever since, it has been run as a beef and cereal farm with a focus on barley, winter wheat and oilseed rape.

David's 27-year-old son Clive also works full-time on the holding. However, their decision to host the Ploughing Champiohships left the Carters with a lot less to do this year.

"I was just getting the plough ready to start planting some autumn-sown crops when we got the call," remembers David.

A neighbouring farmer, who is heavily involved with the Laois ploughing association, enquired shortly after last year's event as to whether the Carters would be interested in staging the event.

Discussions progressed for a number of weeks, during which the farm received visits from various NPA representatives, before a decision was made.

Immediately, the whole farm was laid down to grass-seed that was min-tilled into cereal stubbles.

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"I was pretty impressed with how well it struck, especially after the year we had last year," David says.

During the spring and summer, the farm was grazed by sheep, leaving the Carters with apparently little to do.

"It might have appeared that way but we were kept fairly busy all the same," David said.

The Carters normally make some silage to feed cattle that they keep over the winter, and 2013 was no different. But David is coy when it comes to disclosing any details about their beef enterprise.

"We keep cattle most years but the numbers can vary hugely depending on what prices are like and what kind of an outlook there is for cattle," he says.

The local area is no stranger to national events with the Electric Picnic happening literally next door every year for the past decade.

"One of the car parks for the Ploughing literally borders a field that is always used to park cars in for the Electric Picnic," added David.

"And the locals do have to be very accommodating in terms of access during these events but I think the community is generally very excited about it and all the reaction I've been getting has been very positive so far.

"I know we'll be effectively barricaded in ourselves for three days but that doesn't bother me since we'll be spending all our time down at the site anyway," said the young Laois farmer.

The roadways around the site have also got their special pre-Ploughing makeover, with new grit and tar surfacing. "One of the perks of having the event, I suppose," David remarks.

So has the enormity of the occasion hit him yet?

"I suppose when you come over the road and see all the marquees and Husqvarna poles up you know it's really happening. But it was when bark mulch went down and you got the real smell of the Ploughing that it really hit me."

The site has effectively been under construction for the last month and David thinks that it might take as long again to get it all back to normal.

"There will have to be hedges planted up again where new gaps were made and gates re-instated that were ripped out to give wide enough access for all the trucks and machines. I don't think we'll get any more than one field of winter wheat planted if we're lucky. The rest will be left for planting until the spring."

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