Gravesend and Rochester Agricultural Association

Ploughing Match

 

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THE LINGHAMS AT PADDLESWORTH FARM

The Lingham family are proud to host the 169th Gravesend and Rochester Agricultural Association Ploughing Match and welcome you all to Paddlesworth Farm listed in Doomsday 1086 as Pellesorde. Nestling under the North Downs, the soils range from shallow chalk to gault clay. Today's ploughing contest will take place between the extreme types on grade 2 soil giving all the contestants a fair challenge.

The Lingham family has been farming at Paddlesworth for 89 years starting when lvo Lingham took a tenancy from the Roberts family in 1930. Ivo's eldest son Raymond married Maisie Taylor in 1940, moved to Paddlesworth and two years later took over the tenancy.

During the next 40 years, Paddlesworth became a centre of operations as the acreage grew when neighbouring Farms under the same ownership were added to the tenancy. In that period, Raymond and Maisie raised three children David, Trevor and Brenda, who during their time on the farm all contributed to generate a wide range of produce from the land. The years of mixed farming included a Shorthorn dairy herd, beef cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, all types of cereals, canning peas and sugar beet were grown. Along with potatoes, picking peas, Savoy and January King cabbage without the benefit of irrigation and Grade 1 soils.

By 1982 when Raymond and Maisie retired, the term "combinable crops" described the production at Paddlesworth. Now Livestock free, cereals in rotation with oil seed rape, pulses, herbage seed and linseed occupied the fields.

During the last 89 years, the soils at Paddlesworth have felt the phenomenal changes in equipment to grow the produce. Raymond maintained he could not fully open his fingers through years of hand milking and hanging onto the handles of horse drawn equipment. In contrast to this very 'hands on' method of tilling the soil, the autumn cultivations and planting since 2008 have be achieved by 'hands off' satellite guided tractors.

The field hosting events today is named Hacketts, covering 37 hectares (90 acres) It hasn’t seen a plough for 15 years after a change in the agricultural economic climate saw us stop ploughing to reduce fuel and labour costs and develop a system of minimal tillage where only the top 5-10cm are cultivated to create a seedbed. Over the last 3 years the whole farm’s arable crops have been established under no-till, a method where the debris from the previous crop is left on the surface for worms and microorganisms to digest and return to the soil thus building carbon and organic matter.

The vintage enthusiasts will ensure that ploughing matches in Kent continue, although if the Gravesend and Rochester Agricultural Association return to Paddlesworth in another 10 years, the south facing chalk slopes may well be supporting vines that were probably there when Medieval Pilgrims stopped over in St Benedict’s Chapel on their way to Canterbury.
On behalf of the Lingham Family I sincerely hope you enjoy this year's activities.