From the fields of France to a paddock in Morven, Ben Galano certainly gets around.

The native of Jarny, in northeastern France, was one of more than 30 competitors at the annual Waitaki Ploughing Association ploughing match yesterday, held this year at the property of John and Peter Hughes in Maori Rd at Morven, near Waimate.

Competing alongside his employer, John Booth, of Ashburton, in the horse plough section, Galano is something of a novice when it comes to guiding a plough through soil - yesterday was only the second time he had done it.

The former farrier, pony groomer and tourist driver, who has been in the South Island for about a week, was a last-minute replacement when Booth's original partner, Jim Earl, opted to go duck-shooting instead.

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"It's been very nice using the plough. It's a real job, it's not easy."

Booth said his young apprentice had done well in preparation before judging got under way in the afternoon and had showed "big improvement".

Taking your time was key, he said.

"Absolutely it's patience. Probably the other big secret is listening to the older generation on how things are done, how they used to do it."

Waitaki Ploughing Association president Rod Esker said 11 took part in the conventional silver plough, plus three in the reversible, eight in the New Zealand vintage, two pairs in the horse, three in the single furrow and five in the two furrow.

Soil condition and moisture levels played a huge part in the final result, which was judged on uniformity, weed control, how straight the plough was, the crown, finish and "ins and outs".

"No two paddocks ever plough the same. You've got to have a lot of patience ... if you start throwing your toys out of the cot, you might as well go home."