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‘Don’t make a mess’: Shuswap precision plowman wins silver at national competition

Silver Creek’s Mike Strotmann rode his 1972 John Deere tractor

By Barb Brouwer


As a millwright at Interfor Adams Lake, Mike Strotmann knows a lot about wood.

A silver medal earned in the first week of May proves he also knows a lot about soil and how to plow it.

A competitive plowman, Strotmann represented B.C. in the Canadian Plowing Competition, which took place in Rivers, Manitoba from May 2 to 4.

The 61-year-old Silver Creek hay farmer won silver riding his own 1972 John Deere tractor with a Kverneland, two-furrow, competition plow of the same vintage.

“It is probably the most common competition plow,” he says, noting each competitor in the senior plowing championship with conventional plows, begins with a 20-minute opening split and scratch in which no land in the centre of the opening is left uncut.

Following a 30- to 60-minute break for judging, competitors then have two hours and 40 minutes to plow about half-an-acre of land.

This is precision plowing, says Strotmann.

“You want to be finished in time but you don’t want to rush and make a mess,” he says. “You’re shooting for straightness, uniformity of furrows so you can’t tell where the plow was and stubble coverage.”

All vegetation should be covered and competitors need to have the exact amount of land left to finish with a single-bed furrow, a single wheel mark and balance so it’s clean, he adds.

A hay farmer since 1990, Strotmann started plowing in 1996 in the antique class and was encouraged to enter in the conventional two-furrow senior class in 2010.

He first attended nationals in 2014 and has since earned two bronze medals and in the recent competition “came very close to gold.”

“I have been plowing in Canadian national competitions ever since and I’ve always hauled my own equipment out, mainly to Ontario and New Brunswick.”

His silver medal means Strotmann is a reserve champion, who would be next in line to compete for Canada in international competitions if the gold-medal winner chose not to go.

The next national event will take place next May in Chilliwack and Strotmann plans on being there.

“It would be kind of cool to be Canadian champion one day,” he says, noting the event, which seems to be dying out has not been held in B.C. since 2013.

Read more: Plowing his way to nationals

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