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Stump Jump Plough

The invention of Stump Jump Plough was one of the most
significant contributions to Australian agriculture.



The Invention of the Stump Jump Plough

Stump Jump Plough diagram
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Image from the State Library of South Australia
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The early Australian Pioneers brought with them their knowledge and experience from centuries of agricultural experience in England and Europe.  Many of the practices that worked in the rich and fertile lands of the old country were not suitable to the harsh and baron Australian landscape.

This was the case with the task of clearing land in preparation for cultivation. The English manner was to deep plough with complete turned furrows. This was required to kill the weeds that grew furiously in the rich and damp European climate.   This practice was not at all appropriate to the poorer and dry and Australia land. 

To compound the problem the Australian land had to be cleared first. Widespread land clearing in the 1860s and 1870s meant a vast number of mallee stumps and rocks were left in the ground posing an expensive problem to farmers wishing to plough their land.  Conventional ploughing techniques and equipment resulted in the plough frequently getting stuck in or behind the obstruction causing damage and making the process very time consuming.

The stump jump plough was designed to allow the plough to jump over the stumps and rocks in their way thereby protecting their machinery and avoiding the cost of having to remove each stump.



Richard Bowyer Smith was born in London in 1837 and arrived in Australian in 1838 with his parents.  After trying the Victoria Gold fields the family moved to South Australia where Richard began an apprenticeship and later opened a blacksmith and Carpenters shop with this younger brother Clarrence Herbert Smith. Richard invested in some land at Kalkabury and started clearing the land so that it could be farmed.

The story goes that in the late 1870s Richard Smith was ploughing his paddock in South Australia and his ploughshare struck something hidden in the dirt causing a bolt which held the ploughshare to break.  Richard decided to continue and to his surprise the plough actually worked better by not getting jammed in things under the ground.  Instead it would jump up out of the way.  Richard developed his "Stump-Jump" plough with the help of his brother Clarance and by the turn of the century the Stump-Jump Plough was used all over the world.





Stump Jump Plough

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