how to model ploughed fields

Most model railways are modelled in the summer. This is somewhat fortunate as trees bereft of leaves are challenging and fields will be ploughed or harrowed. Early modellers were quite content to stick some corrugated cardboard down and paint it. Actually, cultivation techniques vary from region to region and change as new technology develops.  Generally, ploughing takes place in September. Earlier ploughs were one handed so the lay of the furrows would be opposite in one direction.

In order to minimise the headlands, several furrows would then be ploughed around the perimeter.


ploughing through time

one or two horses would be used with one share depending upon the heaviness of the soil

steam contract ploughing began in the mid 19th century  and was used as late as the 1950s

early tractors pulled similar ploughs although this Fordson could handle two shares

the breakthrough came with the development of the three point linkage which came into general use in the early 1960s

with loads of tractor power and sophisticated hydraulics, the modern plough is reversible so furrows all fall the same way

Depending upon the type and state of the soil, furrows may be smoothly turned or the soil will break up. If the field is a cereal field the stubble is also turned into the soil.

Headlands are a wonderful subject to model whatever the season.

The exquisite 000 model Rügensche Kleinbahn shows an excellent headland in the foreground of the above photo.

how we do it

I model these fields by laying down a coat of Polyfilla and raking it with a suitable 'comb'. These can be specially made out of an off-cut of brass sheet. Different shapes will give different effects. If the 'combing' is done when the plaster be beginning to go off, the result will be more fragmented 'soil'. It is really worth while experimenting before working on your model.

Once dry, the field can be painted using colour washed and weathering powders.