THE turning of the soil beneath the plough was not just a necessary autumn task at a farm near Ledbury, earlier this month, but part of a popular local competition which dates back to World War Two.

The 75th Annual Trumpet Ploughing Match was held recently at Shilo, Munsley, by kind permission of local farmers, the Simcock family.

A spokesman for the event said: "It was a superb site in some of the finest Herefordshire countryside with a backdrop of the Malvern Hills.

"It was a glorious Indian summer day and the match was extremely well supported. with 85 tractor ploughmen from a very wide area and six teams of horses ploughing, which is always a big attraction."

The match also incorporated a Ladies Domestic Section, a Hop Show and the West of England Fruit Show.

Typically, a ploughing match is a contest involving the ploughing of a designated area of field.

Usually, as in this case, there are classes for horse-drawn ploughs and for tractors, and points are awarded for the neatness and straightness of the furrows.

The first recorded Trumpet Ploughing Match is believed to have taken place in 1944, and the Second World War may have had something to do with it, because it was a time of austerity and rationing.

Back in 1996, in an interview given to the Independent newspaper, Douglas Probert, the then retiring president of the Trumpet and District Agricultural Society explained: "The war was in full swing. Petrol was rationed, so you couldn't go anywhere for a social occasion.

"But you were entitled to go to a ploughing match - that was all right. You could legitimately go to that sort of thing".

The ploughing match seems to have developed out of a natural competitiveness among young farmers and farm workers of the day, and it provided an enjoyable outlet for that competitiveness.

The rest, as they say, is history.