National Ploughing Championships
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Tellus at the National Ploughing Championships
Mairéad Glennon and Shane Carey - GSI

The National Ploughing Championships were held at Ratheniska, Co. Laois on 24th - 26th September 2013 and the Tellus Border team had the exciting prospect of exhibiting at the event for the first time. The three day event, which attracted over 220,000 visitors this year, was a mammoth operation which saw a small city spring up in rural Co. Laois near the village of Ratheniska. As you can imagine, this doesn’t happen overnight and the Tellus team embarked to Laois the day before the event to set up the exhibit. Trundling along the 22km of trackway laid through the 700 acre site in the yellow GSI van, the scale of the site hit home, with electricity, broadband and water service providers working round the clock with exhibitors to get ready on time. If the event is famous for one thing, it’s the traffic, so the next morning at the crack of dawn we headed off in the autumn mist and got there on time to welcome the deluge of crowds to our stand. Whole boxes of pens, notepads and maps disappeared as fast as we could put them out as the people kept coming. A fair proportion of the 60,000 cups of tea and coffee consumed at the event kept us going until 6pm each day. In keeping with the cross-border nature of the project our colleagues from GSNI, Claire McGinn and Mohammednur Dessisa, arrived from Belfast to help out the GSI team of ourselves, Kate Knights, Jim Hodgson and Koen Verbruggen.

Over the three days we had a bamboozling variety of conversations with farmers, agricultural advisors, feed/supplement merchants, vets and members of the public about the project which was a thoroughly enjoyable and educational departure from our more usual geological conference circles. Trace elements in soil, soil types and groundwater wells proved hot topics for discussion at the stand which showcased the geoscientific data in an interactive 3D geographic information system. We also got a chance to check out the wider event ourselves, with the robotic milking, sheep shearing and fashion shows providing something for everyone, especially the city slickers amongst us!

Ploughing Championships 2013
After the three days on the stand, back we were again on the 4th day to pack up. Thankfully the rain held off for most of the event and the dreaded mudbath conditions of previous years didn’t materialise. Leaving the site, it had already been announced that the event would be held again in Ratheniska in 2014. We knew that we would be coming back. Watch out for a bigger and better GSI stand at the Ploughing Championships this year, to be held 23rd - 25th September 2014.

Shane Carey at the Tellus Border Project stand
Shane Carey (right), at the Tellus Border Project Stand at the National Ploughing Championships with the Tellus Border viewer, available at www.tellusborder.eu