Ploughing through championships


Half a century of dedication to competitive ploughing has earned New Zealand truck driver Bob Mehrtens iconic status amongst his fellow sportsmen.

He has been national ploughing champion eight times, and eight times represented New Zealand at the World Ploughing Championships. Source:

He has competed at the national championships 38 times and to do so he has had to win one of the qualifying events held around the country each year.

His passion for the sport is unrivalled.

Mr Mehrtens began competitive ploughing at 12 years old; the age at which you could legally drive a tractor, he points out.  I’ve been to the nationals 38 times. I compete and qualify every year.”

Mr Mehrtens says there are two classes of ploughing; conventional and reversible. Mehrtens competes in the reversible class, which became part of the world championships in 2006.

“I compete in the reversible class because the NZ Ploughing Association (NZPA) told me to because I had won the conventional class so often. I was the guinea pig for New Zealand,” he said.

A reversible plough can be turned over by the tractor’s hydraulics at the end of the furrow and the next pass made against the previous strip. A conventional plough can only turn the soil one way.

There are 28 countries involved in world ploughing; New Zealand and Australia are the only ones from the southern hemisphere.

“You don’t have to be a farmer- look at me. I’m a truck driver,” he said

“We have painters, builders, tradies – all sorts. Just contact me or the New Zealand

Ploughing Association.

“The association has a plough and so does Ravensdown and the Timaru Ploughing Association. There are ploughs out there for anyone who would like to give it a try.”