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Stump - Jump Plough

The stump-jump plough was designed by South Australian agricultural machinery apprentice Richard Bowyer Smith in 1876 and was later developed and perfect by his brother, Clarence Herbert Smith. This plough, which ‘jumps’ over stumps (and other obstructions like rocks) as the name suggests, caused a complete revolution in tilling uncleared land.

In the 1860s and 1870s, as wheat growing expanded into the dry Mallee country of South Australia and Victoria, cropping difficulties arose due to widespread land clearing. A vast number of Mallee stumps were left in the ground posing an expensive problem to farmers wishing to plough their land. The vegetation of this country consisted of a dense cover of Mallee eucalyptus (a small tree which characteristically has several stems growing from large stumps at or just below ground level), which had to be grubbed out before the land could be cultivated.

This was a slow and costly process, until a special kind of scrub roller was devised which could be pulled through the scrub by horses or bullocks, flattening the small trees and undergrowth without impediment from stumps and other obstructions. The flattened vegetation was then left to dry before being burnt. It was the stump-jump plough which allowed farmers to jump over the stumps in their way, thereby protecting their machinery and avoiding the cost of having to remove each stump. When one of the mould-boards on this plough hit a stump or root, its levers allowed it to rise out of the ground and pass over the obstruction, enabling partially cleared land to be cultivated successfully.

Thus the stump-jump plough allowed farmers to cultivate the land without removing rocks and stumps, and along with the Ridley stripper (another South Australian invention), the stump jump plough revolutionised farming worldwide.

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