The Moulboard Plough

The Moulboard Plough

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A moulboard plough that produced a deep furrow and turned the earth after it had been cut by the coulter and share. The moulboard was the device for guiding the plough and turning the earth over. To get the right depth for the seed the plough has to both cut and turn the earth. Moulboard ploughs were mainly used in heavy clay areas. Farmers tended to prefer wheeled ploughs on sandy soils.

A History of Scotland’s Landscapes

Author Fiona Watson looks back over the thousands of years of history that have created the Scottish landscape we know today in an extract from our new book, A History of Scotland’s Landscapes.

In the ten thousand years since the glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age, Scotland has been transformed not once, but many times. As the ice sloped off, it left in its wake great boulder fields and rivers of rubble. The removal of the heavy weight of ice also allowed the downtrodden land to rise. But then glacial melt-waters pouring into swollen seas began to lap up the shoreline and along sea lochs and rivers – especially around 7,000 years ago when a great tsunami hit Scotland’s east coast. It took another thousand years before the land finally began to outrun the sea.

After the Ice

With the ice gone, tentative plant life began to drift in. Hardy herbs and shrubs took root among the rock, providing nourishment to the great beasts – mammoth, bison, woolly rhinoceros, giant fallow deer, reindeer, giant elk – that lumbered across the land bridge from Europe. But still the temperatures rose, sending these plants higher up the hillsides lower down, birch, hazel, pine and oak moved in. Smaller creatures, from wolves to voles, moved with them as their larger predecessors began to die out.

By then humans had arrived too, dodging the rising waters which occasionally wiped out settlements on the coast and flitting from place to place to hunt, collect and fish. They soon knew how to manage the great forests that surrounded them. But in terms of material culture these earliest settlers have left us almost nothing apart from huge middens containing phenomenal quantities of shells, animal bones and tools (often at some distance from the current shoreline).

Iron Age fields at Hut Knowe, Roxburghshire

A Changing Climate

But then the warmer climate started to give way to wetter, windier and colder conditions. This led to yet another significant change to the landscape, one that was to make a huge difference to the lives of succeeding generations. With the decline in temperature, as well as pressure from rising human populations, trees began to die, decaying into peat. Meanwhile, by c2000 BC, our camp-based, semi-nomadic predecessors began to settle down and farm permanently.

By then, parts of the Highlands were already losing their pinewoods, open heath and grasslands taking their place. But from around 500 BC, it is clear that humans were also presiding directly over the more systematic removal of trees to make way for crops and livestock.

Peat continued to spread over succeeding millennia, transforming much of Scotland and its agricultural potential, until the scientific revolutions of the last few hundred years gave farmers the wherewithal to remove large swathes of it. Time and again prehistoric and even medieval communities were obliged to avoid the creeping, glutinous bogs and adapt to new conditions. And time and again, their descendants would wonder at what they found in the depths of the peat, from ancient roads to ploughed fields to huge tree trunks where woods no longer existed.

Lochs wind farm, Lewis with the remains of peat cutting in the foreground

Industrial Innovation

The next major change to the landscape came about through technological innovation. The earliest types of plough, ards, were perfectly good for dry sandy soils, but weren’t much use in the heavy, clay-based soils that dominated northern Europe. However, that is what our predecessors were stuck with for thousands of years. This was to change with the invention of the mouldboard plough, one of history’s under-appreciated heroes.

This plough allowed far greater areas of land to be brought into cultivation (the farming that went along with the plough was essentially communal). The plough also brought nutrients to the surface, pushed weeds underground and allowed the farmer to mix in manure, improving his yields. Additionally, the broad high-backed ridges – tell-tale signs of this new style of ploughing still visible in the landscape today – made for an effective drainage system.

Mertoun House, Berwickshire sits in an intensively farmed landscape created in the 18th century

It would be pointless, however, to deny the impact of modern agricultural practices on the appearance of the land today and the survival – or otherwise – of what went before. With the application of science to almost every aspect of agricultural life the landscape was once more transformed from the eighteenth century onwards.

Agrarian Order

Above all, the agricultural improvers liked order, encouraging the construction of mile upon mile of straight hedgerows or stone walls, firstly around the new amalgamated farms and then separating fields within them. Many agricultural workers had already been attracted by the job opportunities offered by the fast-growing industries of the Lowlands, but others faced no choice but to look for work elsewhere as the communal system of agriculture was abandoned, with land parcelled up among a far smaller number of individual farmers.

Broxburn Oil Works, West Lothian, 1927

New improved breeds of animals arrived too and particular regions developed a reputation for the superiority of their own animals and exported them all round the country. Large expanses of the uplands were soon patrolled by only a few shepherds and their dogs as their flocks pushed out the previous inhabitants to the coast, cities or the colonies.

A Process of Evolution

Improvement was not a single, all-encompassing revolution, but a stop–start, phased series of transformations that, as with everything else, reflected the particular environmental and historical conditions of the landscapes that it touched.

The Sutherland Clearances, with their horror stories of so many families forcibly removed for sheep in a comparatively short time, have captured the modern imagination precisely because they were such an unusually concentrated, violent and disruptive example of the processes that had been at work across the Highlands and Lowlands before and since. Sometimes, too, even the most up-to-date scientific techniques were no match for certain environmental conditions and the new ways of doing things were abandoned, leaving us with the evidence for failure as well as success.

This agricultural revolution continues even now. Climate change will also alter what can and can’t be done in both the lowlands and the uplands, as has always been the case so too will any dramatic changes in farming subsidies beyond the current commitment to replicate European Union levels until 2020.

These key aspects of nearly 10,000 years of history have had a bearing on the evolution of Scotland’s landscapes. They make such an important contribution to the rich and colourful ‘personality’ of the place we call Scotland.

This is an extract from our new book A History of Scotland’s Landscapes by Fiona Watson and Piers Dixon. It is now available to buy in our online shop and all good bookshops.


About Author

Moldboard Plow

While serving as minister to France, Jefferson had the opportunity to observe European plow designs. Their deficiencies inspired him to set down in a 1788 memorandum his plans for an improved moldboard, the wooden part of the plow that lifts up and turns over the sod cut by the iron share and coulter.2 He wished to make that lifting and turning action as efficient as possible, so that the plow could be pulled through the soil with the least expenditure of force. He brought his love of mathematics to his design, which he declared was "mathematically demonstrated to be perfect."3

By 1794, Jefferson had put his plans into action at Monticello. He had a plow fitted with a wooden moldboard of his design and later reported to Sir John Sinclair that "an experience of 5. years has enabled me to say it answers in practice to what it promises in theory." In addition to offering the least resistance as it was pulled through the soil, Jefferson's moldboard had a further advantage: "[I]t may be made by the coarsest workman, by a process so exact, that it's form shall never be varied a single hair's breadth." Ease of duplication was thus another measure of the usefulness of his design.4

In 1814, Jefferson began to have his moldboards cast in iron. He informed Charles Willson Peale that the plow with his iron moldboard was "so light that two small horses or mules draw it with less labor than I have ever before seen necessary. it does beautiful work and is approved by every one."5

Just how widely Jefferson's moldboard was adopted by others is unclear. He never sought to patent it, and in fact sent numerous models to friends at home and abroad, where his design met with general approval. Jefferson's moldboard was featured in James Mease's Domestic Encyclopedia (Philadelphia, 1803), and the French Society of Agriculture awarded Jefferson its gold medal and membership as a foreign associate.6

Types of Mouldboard Ploughs

One way plough throws the furrow slice to one side of the direction of travel and is commonly used everywhere.

It may be long beam type or short beam type

2) Two-way or Reversible plough

It is a mouldboard plough which turns furrow slice to the right or left side of direction of travel as required.

Such ploughs have two sets of opposed bottoms.

In such a plough, all furrows can be turned towards the same side of the field by using one
bottom for one direction of travel and the other bottom on the return trip.

Two sets of bottom are so mounted that they can be raised or lowered independently or rotated along an axis.

Two way ploughs have the advantage that they neither upset the slope of the land nor leave dead furrows or back furrows in the middle of the field.

There are some reversible ploughs which have single bottom with an arrangement that the plough bottom is changed from right hand to left hand or vice versa by rotating the bottom through approximately 180° about a longitudinal axis.

This type of plough is called turn wrest plough While moving in one direction, the plough throws the soil in one direction and at the return trip the direction of the plough bottom is changed,thus the plough starts throwing the soil in the same direction as before

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The Moulboard Plough - History

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New Multi Master 123 NSH Mouldboard Plough (2016 model)

The Agromaster PARS is mounted from the tractors hydraulic lifting unit and universal three point linkage system making transportation to the field simple and easy. The PARS is ideal for the cultivation of stubbly and fallowing soil, mulching the soil, preparing the seed bed, controlling weeds and diseases, decreasing the wind and water erosion, increasing infiltration of rainwater on the field and more. The PARS had 3 moldboards and a 85x25mm diameter sheet frame chassis. Specifications - PARS 123 Number Of Bodies: 3 Total Width: 1175mm Total Length: 2195mm Total Height: 1275mm Height: 670mm Working Depth (Max): 260-300mm Working Width: 930mm Space Between Bodies: 310mm Body Size: 12" Chassis Size: 85x25 Required Power: 65-70HP Weight: 320kg We can deliver this machine Australia wide, just ask us for a delivered price. FarmTech represent Agromaster (Turkey) as their national distributor in Australia should you prefer to buy this machine through your local dealer, you can do that too, just ask! Contact FarmTech today for sales or more information.

Using the plough [ править | править код ]

The purpose of this manual does not include explaining the techniques of soil preparation: the reader can refer for this to one of the many books written on the topic (see bibliography (6)). Nevertheless, it should be noted that while in most cases, the ploughing will have a beneficial effect on the quality of the soil, it can sometimes also have an adverse action on the water balance and the soil fertility, while not forgetting wind erosion. "The work of loosening and turning the plow could lead to an increased evaporation and greater speed of mineralization of humus, and its use is not always appropriate in arid or semi-arid areas" ΐ] It is essential that the used harness for the traction is of good quality and is well suited to the morphology of the animal so that it does not hurt him. In virtually all parts of the world, we find craftsmen capable of making harnesses of satisfying quality.

Development since the 1950’s

We have witnessed many changes in plough design. For example in the UK the conventional plough (right hand bodies only) has now been superseded by the reversible plough because of its simplicity of use and the ability to produce level fields. This being an essential part of current farming practices as larger and wider implements are being used. Sprayers, combine and sugar beet harvesters, to name but a few, would not perform to the high standards expected unless the cultivated land was level. Compared to the ploughs being used in the 1950’s and 1960’s we can pick out some major changes in design which have been necessary to cater for the needs and pressures of modern farming.

Reversing Mechanism

All modern reversible ploughs feature hydraulic reversing systems for turning the plough frame over at the headlands, from the left to the right-hand bodies and vice versa. Some are fitted with hydraulic change-over valves for automatic cylinder stroke direction. Those operators who used the early mechanical ‘push/pull’ or trip lever reversing system would not be able to rotate today’s ploughs as they are far bigger and heavier and often out of balance. Hydraulic reversal is assisted further with hydraulic main frame alignment. This allows the plough frame to hydraulically swing in line with the tractor to prevent the rear plough wheel from hitting the ground. It also improves stability and helps reduce the high forces imposed on both the plough and tractor during the reversing process.

Wheel Settings

Many years ago, if you had a 75hp tractor on the farm it was big and in most cases was only 2-wheel drive. We used to operate ploughs with 56 inches (1.42m) or 60 inches (1.52m) tractor wheel ‘centre-to-centre’ settings – not any more. Modern tractors feature 4-wheel drive and have wider wheel equipment with inside wheel settings up to 72 inches (1.83m). This is to transmit the high horse power available to the ground and keep the tractor in balance with equal weight on each wheel for maximum traction.

Front Furrow Width Adjustment

The tractor’s inside wheel setting controls the plough’s front furrow width when the tractor is operated with the right-hand wheels in the furrow bottom. For ease of plough setting, the plough must have a means of front furrow width adjustment to ensure the plough is compatible with the tractor wheel setting and the width of the other remaining furrows. In the days of conventional ploughs (using right hand bodies only), the front furrow width could be adjusted by sliding the cross shaft to the left or right or by rotating it. When rotated, it enabled the plough to be steered either towards the unploughed land or ploughed work, thus making the front furrow wider or narrower. Although some manufactures still use similar steering systems today on reversible ploughs, by angling the plough’s main frame, this is fundamentally wrong as it can cause the plough or tractor to ‘crab’ due to the increase or decrease in landside pressure. The correct way is to move the whole plough literally sideways at 90 o to the direction of travel to change the width of the front furrow. This is achieved by using a simple slide and rail system or parallel linkage which moves the plough sideways with very little variation in landside pressure. It also allows for easy fitment of a hydraulic cylinder for ‘on-the-move’ front furrow width adjustment when working in hilly areas.

Furrow Width

Over the years, furrow widths (‘X’) have increased from as little as 6 inches to over 20 inches wide. Back in the 1930’s horses and early tractor ploughs operated with furrow widths of 6 to 9 inches because of the limited power to pull them. The average width of a horse’s foot is around 7 inches therefore, when land was ploughed and subsequently sown, often by hand, onto what is termed oat seed furrows, the sown seed would roll and lay in the ‘V’ shaped furrow. The ploughing would then be cross harrowed covering the seeds with soil. Once germinated, the plants would be in rows of 7 inches apart, wide enough for the horse’s foot to pass between while walking through the established crop.

Frame Design

Early reversible ploughs were constructed from rectangular or rail line shaped solid steel bars. These were bolted together to form ‘A’ shaped sections to which the individual body assemblies and components were attached. Using this system on today’s larger and heavier multi furrow ploughs would cause distortion and poor body alignment. Modern plough frames are produced from a one-piece box section, heat treated for strength and to help keep the weight to a minimum. Manufactures without sophisticated heat treatment equipment use simple welded fabrications. These can be very heavy and impose additional high forces on the rear of the tractor.

A plough frame must withstand high twisting forces, especially when in a transport position, therefore, must be flexible to absorb the stresses and strains, yet rigid enough to maintain alignment accuracy.

Furrow Width Adjustment

The majority of early tractor mounted reversible ploughs had the furrow width fixed at 12 or 14 inches. To improve output efficiency and plough versatility, furrows had to get wider and be capable of being adjusted. This was not only to suit soil conditions, but to help reduce manufactures and dealers stocking levels. In the late 1970’s plough frames were being introduced with wedges, holes and parallel linkage to enable the furrow width to be easily changed. Output was the key factor and 16 inch ploughs began to appear from Europe. Often, we were told by our seniors, ‘you cannot plough wider than 14 inches’. They have been proved wrong, because ploughs are now capable of operating with furrow widths of over 20 inches wide. However, this was not possible without the development and changes to the shape of the mouldboard. With this change, it allowed for wider furrow slices and faster operating speeds. In the early 1980’s the patented Variable Width ‘on-the-move’ system became very popular. This was because of the simplicity to hydraulically change the furrow width from within the tractor cab to suit the type of soil being ploughed. As a result, output and ploughing efficiency improved as the operator was able to plough more acres a day.

Plough Clearance

A plough frame with bodies having an interbody clearance of 85cm (33.5in) and an under-beam clearance of 70cm (27.5in) or above is generally accepted as adequate for UK surface trash conditions, yet, many years ago we were using ploughs with as little as 20 inches between each body and 17 inches under the beam to the point. These early plough clearances would not allow the plough to perform at today’s ploughing speeds of more than 6mph or with the larger amounts of surface residue left over from the higher yielding crops.

All the latest mounted and semi-mounted ploughs can be equipped with either shear bolts, or auto-reset systems. These are to protect the plough from rocks and occasional obstructions. Plough legs fitted with a safety system is essential, because we are using very high horse powered tractors at faster operating speeds. Modern ploughs are also longer and heavier and do not ‘jump’ over obstacles as in the past. Modern steels and heat treatment processes also play an important part, because they have greater resistance to wear and can operate under tougher working conditions and at higher operating speeds without breaking. The old early ‘chilled’ cast iron shares would simply break.


Plough design has developed with civilisation and improvements in its efficiency as farm practices changed. Although, the plough is not used to the same degree as in the past due to the use of faster and more cost effective one-pass tined implements, its development will continue for eternity as man will always endeavour to find the ultimate solution in soil management for the efficient cultivation and inversion of the soil and production food.

Plastics or similar materials together with advances in electronics and automated machinery that ‘think’ as they operate is our future. What is revolutionary today will inevitably be overtaken by science tomorrow. It is a known fact the mouldboard plough has a proven record for efficient soil management.

Good ploughing effectively inverts the soil, controls weeds, improves drainage, aerates the soil, improves the soil structure and reduces the risk of disease. Its use and development will continue to ensure it meets all the demands of farming in the future.

For further information on mouldboard ploughs and their settings ‘The Ploughman’s Hand Book’, a comprehensive guide to achieve and understand the fundamentals of the mouldboard plough and its use is available from The Society of Ploughmen. Click here for further details.

A Short History of Tilling

For many farms across the world today, tilling soil is an essential part of farm practices. Without tillage they would struggle to grow crops with as much success – or so they think. With the rise of no-tillage farming we thought it would be a great idea to take a look back over history at how tilling has developed and evolved over time.

Tilling in Ancient History

The act of tilling soil is an ancient technique, despite the plough machines we are used to in modern times. Using hand held tools like the hoe, known then as an ard, or using animals and slaves to turn and trample soil is a many century old idea.

Some of the earliest, detailed records of tilling come from ancient Egypt – though the tomb paintings we have are open to some debate as to what they’re really depicting. “Evidence seems to suggest that very little tillage, if any, was necessary on land well-inundated by traditional basin irrigation” Murray says, a contributing author to Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology.

By keeping land well irrigated and therefore fertile, the Egyptians appear to have greatly reduced the need for the land to be tilled. By running water in a basin network through fields they ensure that soil moisture levels are constantly high enough and full of nutrients for their crops without tilling the soil to bring nutrients to the surface and reduce down organic matter. Furthermore, the soil by the Nile used for agriculture was much softer and sandier than the clay type soils many farmers have to deal with today.

Is this something you can make use of on your farm today? It’s certainly an interesting idea but without a large body of water nearby to channel water through to your fields this could be quite costly and require a lot of maintenance.

Still, the idea of a network of irrigation flowing throughout fields has stayed with us through to this day just look at drip irrigation: a network of pipes dripping water across fields, increasing soil moisture levels and can be used to deliver nutrients and herbicides too.

Centuries of Tilling Developments

Since ancient times agriculture has gone through centuries of technological developments, providing us with more efficient tools and techniques to till our fields with maximum efficiency.

The simple wooden plough is first made record of in English writing as recent as the 12th century, yet we know it’s been around for much longer than that.

These old ploughs are simple structures that are strapped to the back of animals. As they pull along, a blade or simple wooden stick runs through the soil, creating deep gorges in the earth where old soil is pushed over and nutritious, deeper soil is exposed ready for sowing crops.

As the plough develops, additional parts are added to the simple blade running through the ground. The ‘share’ is just one of these parts. The shape of the ‘share’ is what makes these ploughs so successful: by having a variety of different shapes and styles of ‘share’ you’ll end up with different depths when tilling and different techniques for different soil types. The blade cuts through the earth first, followed by the share which pushes soil to either side exposing the deeper soil below.

This type of plough is commonly referred to as the mouldboard plough and when looking at diagrams of this simple device it’s easy to see how our modern ploughs have developed from this original idea.

When you start to replace the runner on these ancient plough devices with wheels, this allows the weight of the plough to increase while ploughing deeper and still running smoothly. At this point we start to see cast iron being used to create the blade and structure of the plough – this drastic increase in weight called for more power needed when tilling fields.

We suspect that strong, powerful oxen were most likely used for pulling ploughs throughout history the use of horses in agriculture for pulling machinery is a more recent development. The heavy shire horse, for example, only reached high popularity in the UK and USA during the 19th century,

The 18th century is when science and philosophy start to shape the western world with more vigour – agricultural technology was no exception. During this time we see the rise of the first commercially successful plough that was mass produced (though not on the scale we’re used to today).

We’re of course referring to the British Rotherham plough its lighter design of simple handles, coulter and mouldboard made it very popular in the UK. Not 60 years later another breakthrough in the UK happens quite by mistake, allowing ploughs to strengthen even further. An Ipswich iron founder with faulty moulds found that when the molten metal that was used to craft the ploughs came into contact with cold metal, the strength of the structure improved considerably.

By 1837 an American blacksmith by the name of Deere invented the steel plough which was a huge success with American farmers struggling with tough land previously thought to be unsuitable for farming.

This just goes to show how new farming technology literally changes the world around us. Who knows, arid deserts and cold climates we currently believe to be impossible to farm on could become an option as agricultural tech continues to develop today.

As we’re going through the developments of the 19th century, steam engines start to pull our ploughs, especially in America where they retain some popularity right through and into the 20th century, however it’s not long until the modern tractor we know starts to change our fields forever…

While our tractors are getting more and more high tech (did you know there are companies working on a driverless tractor?!) the science behind tilling has barely changed. Now pulled by great hefty tractors that can till several rows at a time, tilling ultimately still relies on the same techniques.

Our machines make use of carefully calibrated wheels and blades to improve our tilling efforts as precision agriculture drives farming practices forward. Deere, the 19th century blacksmith mentioned previously, left a company that’s still producing some of the most popular tilling equipment that’s used worldwide today.

With the scientific agricultural improvements over the past decades, we’re getting much better at analysing and evaluating our farm management and practices, raising the question of whether tilling our fields is really that good for soil health and yield improvement.

No-tillage farming is becoming ever more popular as we better understand what tilling is doing to our soil. So what are the benefits of avoiding this ancient farming technique on your land?

Improved soil nutrition. Every time you till your land you’re tearing up the ecosystem that’s taken months to develop. From earth worm networks to plants that have been reducing the impact of soil erosion and all those important nutrients that are protected under layers of earth.

Protected soil. Every time you till you pull finer soils up to the surface and expose nutrients to the elements where they can be washed or blown away. By not tilling you are locking in those essential nutrients your crops need without compacting the soil by running over heavy tillage machinery.

Great for arid regions. When there’s little water in the soil to begin with, the last thing you want to be doing is digging up that moisture only to see it evaporate off. Not tilling this land will help to seal in the moisture.

There are some huge disadvantages to not tilling your land too, but it really does depend on your soil type and climate. For example, when you forgo tilling on arid land, you’re often left with a very hard, dry surface that’s difficult for rainwater to penetrate. This could cause run-off, flooding and dryer soils as you’ve not tilled the soil to a point where cracks enable water to drain and be absorbed properly.

As the agricultural world is becoming more divided over tilling practices maybe it’s time that you gave different techniques a go! Who knows, you may be the next inventor of technology that changes the world once more.

Whether you go for traditional tilling methods or try out some new methods of keeping your fields healthy and ready for sowing, you’re going to need the latest technology to achieve the optimum yield improvement levels. It’s so important to record and analyse how well your methods perform for your farm so we can drive technology forward and further increase farming efficiency.

Keep up to date with this blog and check back regularly for more developments in the precision agriculture world.

Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, Paul T. Nicholson, Ian Shaw, Cambridge University Press, 2000

A History of World Agriculture: From the Neolithic Age to the Current Crisis, Marcel Mazoyer, Laurence Roudart, NYU Press, 2006

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Object No.

Object Statement

Physical Description

Photographic glass plate negative, 'LDB4' four (4) furrow horsedrawn mouldboard plough, Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Australia, 1900-1945

A rectangular black and white silver gelatin glass plate negative in landscape format. The image depicts 'LDB4' four (4) furrow horsedrawn mouldboard plough.


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The Clyde Engineering Company photograph collection is made up of around 1300 half plate glass negatives and approximately 4000 triacetate negatives.

The triacetate collection appears to date from the late 1930s through to 1960s the glass plates from around 1900-1950. Most of the photographs are commissioned works taken around the Clyde Works in Granville, Sydney. Others are copies of original photographic prints, blueprints and pages from books. These are hard to accurately date it is almost certain that the collection is the work of numerous photographers unfortunately their identity is at present unknown.

Glass plates were first used to support photographic emulsions in the late 1840s and remained in continuous use right through until the middle of the twentieth century. While the earliest plates supported 'dry' and 'wet' collodion emulsions these were replaced with silver gelatin emulsions in the 1880s. Unlike earlier plates these were mass produced on a huge scale and were capable of fast speeds even at half and full plate sizes.

One drawback of this process was that larger plate sizes required a correspondingly large camera to fit the plate. These were relatively cumbersome and when you take into consideration the weight of the glass plates it is no surprise to find they were mainly used for studio and commercial work. However they were still favoured by many professionals for a long time after roll film was introduced by Kodak in the late 1880s. This was because the large plates could be more easily worked on for masking and their contact prints provided better results than some of the early enlarging equipment

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, February, 2008

Gernsheim, H. and Gernsheim A., The History of Photography from the Earliest Use of the Camera Obscura in the Eleventh Century up to 1914. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1955.



The Clyde Engineering Company photograph collection was acquired by the Powerhouse Museum in December 1987. The material was removed from Clyde Engineering when the offices were being relocated and appears to be only a portion of the original collection. Around 1350 half plate glass negatives and approximately 4000 triacetate negatives came to the Museum at this time.

The triacetate collection is made up predominantly of copies of blueprints and plans of machinery dating from the late 1940s through to 1960s. These subjects may have referred to actual work carried out by Clyde but material appears to have also been used for research and copied directly from books. In 2007 the triacetate negatives were placed into cold storage while waiting to be catalogued. In the same year the glass plates were catalogued and digitised as a part of the Total Asset Management Project for the Museum's collection database and website and for Picture Australia.

The subject matter contained in the half plate glass negatives covers over 60 years of the Clyde Engineering Company's activities in New South Wales. It starts in the 1880s when the company was still called Hudson Brothers and goes through to the late 1940s. Most of these images were taken at the Clyde Works in Granville, Sydney, New South Wales and many include interior and exterior images of the people and workshops at Clyde Engineering and on the banks of the Duck River.

Some appear to have been commissioned to record the completion of particular Clyde projects such as locomotives, boilers and agricultural equipment at the Clyde works. A few have been photographed in other locations such as the aircraft photographs taken at Bankstown Airport and some works photographed after delivery.

A few photographs are copies of original photographic prints, blueprints and pages from books and these are hard to accurately date. As most of the original negatives were taken over a long time period it is almost certain the photographs are the work of numerous photographers, unfortunately their identity is at present unknown.

Some of the negatives have appeared in a Clyde booklet published for the delegates of the 'Seventh Congress of the Chamber of Commerce of the British Empire in 1909' and a Clyde booklet held by the museum which was published around 1945. These publications and the fact that some of the negatives have been masked make it clear that the while the photographers were cataloguing the accomplishments of the company they were also creating content used to advertise and promote the company's products.

Two photographers who did photographic work for Clyde from the 1960s onwards were Charles French of 87 Yarram Street, Lidcombe in New South Wales and Jack Draper an employee and photographer employed by Clyde Engineering around the same period.

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, February, 2008


Dear Sirs, I would like to ask you the best option for complementing/replacing the use of the mouldboard plough as primary tillage in the following conditions:

1. Almost flat terrain located in the north of the La Coruña province. It is heavy terrain with high clay content and medium/high rainfall. 2. There are meadows with a very high degree of compaction and worked land, corn and sugar beet, rapeseed mainly for rotation, with a medium or low compaction. 3. The secondary tillage is done with harrow discs. 4. Equipment: 65cv tractor.

1. A curved subsoiler. 2- To reduce tillage. 3. To reuse the 50mm square tube frame of the current cultivator to install the necessary tines and grilles. Currently harrow discs are used as the only tillage before seeding the rapeseed and for spreading compost on the soil, with very good results.

I look forward to your reply,.

The best option for decompacting the ground in the conditions you indicate is using a curved subsoiler with oblique tines, which is an instrument designed specifically for decompacting meadows, and that is used in some soils on which continuous direct seeding is carried out.

The oblique tines can be inserted on the frame that you have (50 mm square tubing) on two lines in opposite directions, as shown in the figure, although it is advisable to reinforce the tie points on the frame of each tine to give it greater resistance.

Although six tines are shown in the picture, given the power of the available tractor, we recommend only using 4 tines spaced about 40 cm apart (the two central tines would be 80 cm apart, inclining towards the centre of the implement).

There are companies that offer the complete curved subsoiler, however, if you want to take advantage of the cultivator frame, the oblique tines, Ref. 15010-A, offered by Bellota can be used, complemented with ancillary elements for a maximum work depth of 25 to 35 cm. We do not recommend working any deeper with a 65 CV tractor.

For this curved subsoiler to work well, it has to be used on crumbly soil (neither too dry nor too moist), so that the ground bursts and decompacts without leaving an uneven surface. It does not have to be used every year, but only when the soil appears compacted. It is best to cross the passes in subsequent operations. This could be done with harrow discs. We are at your disposal for any further clarification you may need.