22 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 17

The New Ploughmen

A letter is before me from the most modern of ploughmen, to wit a young woman. She writes: " I can now drive a tractor quite well, but it will take me at least ten years to plough a straight furrow." Those excellent institutions, the County agricultural stations, arc training a considerable number of young women in the art of tractor driving, and they register themselves as either local or mobile drivers. Those who are moderately efficient as motor-drivers learn the tractor in a fortnight or even a week, but the rigidly straight furrow is a fine art for which only some folk are equipped, and they need much practice. The many- furrowed plough—and a good many five-furrowed imple- ments are in use—is considerably more difficult than the single, but it has this advantage that five furrows at any rate are parallel. The slow-wise shire-horse in front, with a slow- w:se labourer behind still does the best work, and the accuracy Of the line is a thing to marvel at ; but the tractor is more than five times as quick, and many of the drivers go very straight. Their slight deficiency in the finer points of the

art is scarcely reflected in the subsequent crop, though the older labourers maintain that they can see by the lower quality of ear and straw just where the heavy wheels of the tractor have hammered down the soil. All ploughing tends to produce a hard pan between top-soil and sub-soil, and because after a while it is better for this to be broken such deep-rooted crops as the sugar-beet have a value that is not apparent on the surface : they are nature's sub-soilers.