Jim ploughing with Qualitie and Quarota

Jim ploughing with Qualitie and Quarota









Jim (Slì Eile Mentor and Advisor) ploughing land on the farm with his two horses Qualitie and Quarota, preparing it to sow cereal rye seeds.


Tenants scattering cereal rye seeds

Tenants scattering cereal rye seeds









Tenants scattering cereal rye seeds


Why Rye?  Cereal rye is an excellent winter cover crop because it rapidly produces a ground cover that holds soil in place against the forces of wind and water. Rye’s deep roots help prevent compaction in annually tilled fields, and because its roots are quite extensive, rye also has a positive effect on soil tilth.

Compared to other cereal grains, rye grows faster in autumn and produces more dry matter the following spring–up to 10,000 pounds per acre.

Rye is the most winter-hardy of all cereal grains, tolerating temperatures as low as -30°F once it is well established. It can germinate and grow at temperatures as low as 33°F, but it sure won’t grow very much when it’s that cold.

When sown in late autumn, around the time of the first light frost, winter rye is still able to put on just enough growth to provide some protection against soil erosion over the winter. High seeding rates should be used for late-sown winter covers to assure a decent amount of ground cover, since individual plants will be small.


The plough horses had a quiet kind of dignity about them, a broad-shouldered grace if you like. It was almost as if they were at ease with themselves and the world around them, the long lines of the furrows shining in their wake.

The ploughing of the field is an art form in itself; the relationship between horse and ploughman is especially close. It is as if they knew and understood each other without the need for words at all, the bond between them palpable in every move.

The plough is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting to loosen or turn the soil. Ploughs are traditionally drawn by working animals such as horses or cattle, but in modern times may be drawn by tractors. A plough may be made of wood, iron, or steel. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture.

The primary purpose of ploughing is to turn over the upper layer of the soil, bringing fresh nutrients to the surface, while burying weeds, the remains of previous crops, and both crop and weed seeds, allowing them to break down. It also provides a seed-free medium for planting an alternate crop. In modern use, a ploughed field is typically left to dry out, and is then harrowed before planting. Plowing and cultivating a soil homogenizes and modifies the upper 12 to 25 cm of the soil to form a plow layer. In many soils, the majority of fine plant feeder roots can be found in the topsoil or plow layer.

Ploughs were initially human powered, but the process became considerably more efficient once animals were pressed into service. The first animal powered ploughs were undoubtedly pulled by oxen, and later in many areas by horses (generally draught horses) and mules, although various other animals have been used for this purpose.