The 2023 World Ploughing Contest is taking place in Latvia this week, where the Irish team has travelled to in the hope of continuing their success from last year.

The Irish contingent, currently in Latvia, comprises current world champion ploughmen John Whelan of Co. Wexford and Eamonn Tracey from Co. Carlow, with their coach, Brian Ireland from Co. Kilkenny, along with judge John Deery of Co. Monaghan.

However, it will not be plain sailing for the Irish team, as Anna Marie McHugh, general secretary of the World Ploughing Organisation told Agriland that the weather conditions in Latvia in recent days have not been favourable.

“Conditions will be very challenging. We’ve had a lot of rain,” McHugh said.

“Different parts of the field have very different conditions. A lot of it is going to depend on the luck of the draw, the official draw that happens tonight.

“There are some really good plots, and there’s some not so good plots. It’s just the way it happens.”

The two-day event is beginning with the World Ploughing Stubble Contest that will take place tomorrow, Friday, October 13, followed by the World Grass Contest on Saturday, October 14.

World Ploughing Contest

The Irish team has been in Latvia over the last number of days training for the World Ploughing Contest.

It is the 68th World Ploughing Contest, and is being held in the Kuldigas region, which McHugh said is “a unique and beautiful place”.

The soil that competitors will be ploughing on is comprised 30% sand; 20% silt; 40% clay; 10% humus, where the ploughing depth during the contest is 19cm.

Representing the Republic of Ireland at the World Ploughing Contest will be John Whelan and Eamonn Tracey.

Whelan, from Ballygarvan, Co. Wexford, will be competing in the reversible category, while Tracey, of Garryhill, Co. Carlow will compete in the conventional category.

Northern Ireland representatives are Andrew Gill in the conventional category, and Adrian Jamison in the reversible category.

There are a total of 26 countries competing in the World Ploughing Contest, a competition that Ireland hosted last year, and will not host again until 2037.


The machinery and equipment for the Irish team had been brought over from Ratheniska, Co. Laois to Latvia, following the National Ploughing Championships last month.

Aigars Laurinovics, chairman of the board of the Latvia Ploughing Organization said: “The 2022 championship was hosted by Ireland, where ploughing is as popular as football and rugby, and I suggested that Latvia could be hosted this year, because why not?”

Last year, at the 67th Ploughing Championship in Ireland, Latvia had its best ever result, with Janis Vaitkevics taking sixth place.