When the Southern Vintage Tractor and Engine Club held its annual ploughing match on Saturday at Ballvayre in Colby it was like watching the recent history of farming unfold as the vintage machines got a chance to show what they can do.

Of course the history begins, not with the machines but with the horses.

Nicola and David Rawnsley, who brought along Duke and Tempete, are now sadly the only ones competing in horse ploughing matches but plough horses would have been seen in the fields around the island right up until the Second World War.

A horse-drawn plough can only plough a single furrow.

The oldest tractor competing at the event was the Fordson N owned by Tony Collister.

This machine dates back to the 1930s when tractors first started to appear in the island.

They towed the ploughs behind them, trailer style and they could plough two furrows at a time which clearly speeded up the whole process.

However it was the next development that really saw tractors becoming an indispensable piece of equipment on every farm.

Harry Ferguson’s prototype tractor with three-point linkage for attaching implements, weight transference and hydraulic control of implements, including automatic depth control, was completed in 1935 in Belfast, and became known as ‘the Ferguson Black’.

The new system greatly improved machine control and performance.

Whilst researching at the Manx Museum, Southern Vintage Tractor and Engine Club secretary Orry Mitchell came across the large number of Ferguson tractors that were being brought over and registered on the island by Corlett Sons & Cowley, from 1947 right through into the 1950s.

Orry said: ‘It just showed how much things were changing in farming: the Ferguson system revolutionised the whole system of farming and ploughing.’

Saturday’s event, which was attended by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Lorimer, and Lady Lorimer, saw 12 tractors and the one pair of horses on the field showing what they can do.

The judges for the day were Alan Skillicorn and Johnny Dobson and the full list of competitors and machines is as follows: Horses: Nicola and David Rawnsley; Manx Style: Emma Faragher - John Deere 1030 tractor; Diesel Trailer Ploughing: Tony Collister - Fordson N tractor; Vintage Mounted: Peter Faragher - Fordson Major, Harvey Cooil - Fordson Dexta, Francis Garnett-Ore - Massey-Ferguson 35, Chris Clegg - Ferguson-TE 20, Dave Corrin - Massey-Ferguson 35, and Jimmy Corlett - Massey-Ferguson 35; Modern/Classic: Colin Duggan - International 454, Stuart Callow - Case 75, and Stephen Ennett - Case.

Shields and trophies for the winners will be presented on Thursday (October 20) at The Sidings in Castletown.

The results will appear on next week’s Food & Farming page.