The final sod has been turned at a scaled back National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois with Wexford men Martin Kehoe and Dan Donnelly becoming national champions at the 90th anniversary of the event.
The finest ploughmen and women from all over the country battled it out on 150 acres in 22 separate classes over the last three days. In a change from other years, all ploughing took place on stubble on the third day of the championships.
Ploughing icon Martin Kehoe became the National Senior Conventional Ploughing Champion whilst Dan Donnelly won the Senior Reversible Contest.
Siobhan Dermody from Piltown, Co Kilkenny was crowned the Queen of the Plough following her win in the farmerette class.
Ms Dermody was heavily tipped for the win as she previously joked that she could drive a tractor before she was able to operate a car. She was declared Queen of the Plough in 2019 and was on track to defend her title until the Covid-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the championships. She is a Research Operations Administrator in Teagasc Head Office.
Meanwhile, Aisling O'Toole from Co Kildare scooped the 2021 National Brown Bread Baker winning a prize fund of €15,000. Her award winning loaf will be available to purchase in Aldi stores nationwide for the next year.
This year's overall Innovation Arena Awards with Enterprise Ireland winner was marine biotech company Brandon Bioscience in Tralee, Co Kerry who were involved in a collaboration with the traditional fertiliser manufacturer Target Fertilisers.
The company’s winning entry is an innovative new biostimulant product using extracts from common brown seaweed that has the potential to reduce chemical nitrogen input on farms by up to 20 per cent.
The best overall start-up award went to Jennifer and Kevin Corley, founders of EquiTrace. Their app works with a horse's microchip to identify, locate and track individual animals as they move while also recording animal temperature and health records when used with a Merck Bio-Thermo chip and scanner. Both the overall and best start-up Award winners will receive a prize fund of €5,000 each.
The championships were not open to the general public this year arising out of Pandemic restrictions. The site was limited to 1,000 per day for the three days including participants. Under normal circumstances 100,000 people per day attend the championships.
It was a back to basics style event with more than 20 classes of ploughing events. The event will be held again next year in Ratheniska with organisers hoping that conditions will allow for more participants and attendees.