The Stump Jump Plough

 The stump Jump Plough Originally invented by James Winchester Stott

Over the years there has been much controversy over who really invented the Stump Jump Plough. Although many others claim to be the inventors they were however copies of Stott’s stump jump plough with minor modifications made to them. The most commonly held belief is that it was definitely invented by James Winchester Stott of Alma who had migrated to Geelong in Australia from Aberdeen, Scotland , in 1851. When early Australians began to open up the land for farming, they encountered problems related to clearing the land of trees.  The invention of the stump-jump plough was of tremendous help to these pioneer farmers.  Whilst a conventional plough could not be used because it would constantly jam on the remaining tree stumps, a stump-jump plough allowed them to plough land cleared of trees without removing the stumps, and so crops could be planted.  Stump removal could occur at a later time without hindering the farmer’s task of growing crops. As a result of this invention By James Winchester Stott which he won many prizes for, and was only one of many of his inventions, the Mallee country in South Australia was able to be farmed successfully. His stump jump plough implements gained a large number of prizes in South Australia and the other States, at Calcutta, and at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London. Apart from the Stump Jump Plough which by far was his most important invention he also invented  a stripper, bush cutter, cultivator and double furrow plough all of which won many prizes throughout Australia. The following have all been found by much research:

South Australian Weekly Chronicle   Saturday 15th December 1883TRIAL OF MALLEE BUSH CUTTER

Since the successful introduction of the mullenising plough and scarifier one of the greatest difficulties the farmer of the scrub lands has had to contend against has been the growth of mallee shoots. When a selector takes up scrub land he usually breaks down the mallee by means of a heavy roller drawn by horses or bullocks, and then burns the debris off level with the ground. If the fire destroyed roots at the same time matters would be very much simplified, but unfortunately the roots send up young shoots each year, and how to get rid of these shoots with as little expense as possible has been one of the problems that has troubled farmers for some time past. Various means have been adopted to effect the clearance of the land, but they have generally only been partially successful. Heavy rollers and mowing machines have been used. The rollers are generally unsuccessful owing to the elastic nature of the young mallee, which falls before the roller only to rise again after it has passed. The mowing machine has been successfully employed where the land was originally well cleaned and the shoots have not grown too strongly, but under other circumstances the mower is too liable to breakage and failure. During the past few months Mr. D. A. Flintoff, a farmer of Maitland, in conjunction with Messrs. Stott & Sons, has been perfecting a machine which it is thought will meet the difficulty. The machine consists of four knives attached to a circular plate which revolves about six inches from the ground; this is fixed between two ordinary dray wheels, one of which is the driving wheel, having cogs affixed, as in the case of the crown wheel of a reaper, by means of which as the machine is drawn along the knives revolve. The height of the plate and knives is regulated by set screws, and they can thus be raised or lowered as the nature of the ground to be cleared demands. On Saturday, December 8, a trial of the implement was held as Mr. Flintoff’s farm near Maitland in the presence of about forty farmers and others interested in the machine. The cutter was drawn by two horses and was set to work on a scrub of several years growth, in which there were bunches of mallee as thick as whip sticks. The test was a severe one in the least thickly wooded portion of the section, but at the request of the spectators, Mr. Flintoff, who was in charge of the implement, drove through the thickest portions of the scrub, which contained a quantity of dry sticks. The machine was kept at work for two hours, and although at times the horses showed signs of being over-tasked, the cutter did its work without a hitch throughout. The trial was considered eminently satisfactory by those present. It is estimated that in scrub such as that in which the trial took place, about ten acres per day could be cut, but in a lighter crop a much greater area could be operated upon in the same time. It was suggested by some of those present that the machine would be improved if eight knives were used instead of four. Objection was taken to the price of the cutter, 38 pounds, which was considered too high, and it was suggested that if it could be made for 25 pounds it would soon become as popular as the stump jumping plough, which is now used on almost all of the large farms on the Peninsula.



In accordance with my instruction I started on Tuesday morning last, Aug. 23, by the early train, en route for stockyard creek in order to witness the trial of a new invention, “Stott and Flintoff’s bush and mallee cutter”, and Stott’s double furrow plough with cultivator attached. The morning was beautifully fine and as the train sped on the country looked quite green and sparkling. It was evident that everything had been greatly refreshed by the seasonable rains. On arriving at stockyard creek at 10 o’clock, it was evident some mistake was made, as contrary to expectation, there was nobody there to meet me. Neither could I get any but the vaguest information as to where the trial was to take place. At length, after inquiring I was informed that the mallee was to be cut in “Miller’s” paddock about a mile straight out from the station. On this information I started. About half a mile over, I came to the Government reservoir from which the tank at the station is supplied through pipes. The reservoir is a tolerably sized sheet of water and had about ten and a half feet of water in it on my visit. The water is pumped by a portable engine, which has to be set going once in five days, that meeting all requirements. The occasion of my visit happened to be the day for pumping and I had a short chat with the engineer. From thence, I started my course to “Millers scrub” but there was an ominous absence of visitors about. I had nothing to guide me and so shaped my course to a house. Here I met a woman who could give me no information. She believed the scrub was to be cut, but thought that the trial of the ploughing would take place first and that was at a farm in the vicinity of the railway station I had left. Back I trudged again, calling at this farm when I saw this farmer’s wife. She however, could give me but little information. From thence I strolled back to the station, where I received an invitation to dinner, and until it was ready I strolled away and accidently dropped upon the plough that was to be tried, standing alone in a paddock. After dinner, seeing several traps and horsemen wending their way towards the scrub that I had visited, I again took my course in that direction and picking up the track, of what I made sure was the mallee cutter, followed it up and arrived at the scene. Here I found about fifty farmers assembled and taking a manifest interest in the operation of the cutter, which was in full work. The trial to which the machine was put, was a very severe one. The mallee had been cut down five years ago, consequently, there was five years of growth. The stems were all sizes, from the thickness of a quill to an inch and a half or even two inches in diameter. The machines drawn by two horses, seemed to treat them all alike. It went along whisking off the tops of the grass till it came to a tall clump of scrub some seven feet high, when, with a wisk and a whirl, a flush of leaves and a crash, the whole of the bush was leveled to the ground, having been cut off about four inches from the surface. So it went on till another half acre was cut, refusing nothing, but cutting down all before it. The visitors seemed much struck with the work done, and eagerly knocked up some stumps to carry off as trophies. Some of them was as thick as broom handles, and some considerably thicker. The proprietor of the Royal Balaklava Hotel took possession of one lot, it consisted of the stumps made by one sweep of the machine. There were twigs the thickness of a quill and two sticks that had grown side by side that were nearly three inches through. These had all been cleanly cut with one blow of the knife. Mr.  Flintoff had one machine in use during the season made by Stott and with which he had cut 150 acres of bushes in his paddock in York’s Peninsula. The machine works by cogs from the wheel, which operates on a pinion that turns a verticle shaft. On the top of this shaft is a cross belt that works another upright shaft. At the bottom of this shaft is a horizontal circle of iron, to which two or four strong blades can be attached. The whole can be thrown in or out of gear by levers close to the driver on the near side. There is also a lever by which the knives can be lifted high enough to escape any stump or obstruction. It is supposed to be drawn by three horses when in full work, and to cut eight acres a day. We understand these machines can be made for 30 pounds a-piece. At the conclusion of the trial and previous to an adjournment to another paddock to witness the trial of the plough, Mr. Freeburn, Chairman of the Alma District Council, proposed a vote of thanks to Messrs Stott and Flintoff. He said the results had been beyond his expectations. He had not expected to see the machine cut down such stuff as it had done that day. Mr. Howard seconded the vote. He could quite endorse the remarks of Mr. Freeburn. Three cheers were called for the inventors. Mr. Flintoff felt obliged to them for their compliment. He had always made it his study if ever he discovered anything that would be beneficial to his fellow men to make it known. He could tell them he had lost many hour’s sleep over the matter. Mr. Stott acknowledged their kindness. His principle was to do the best for his friends. Horses being yoked up the visitors hastened to witness the working of the plough and the cultivator. Here again they were surprised. The plough was one of Stott’s own make with a cultivator fixed behind each. The plough was first set to plough five inches, the cultivator working four inches below that, making nine inches in all. Everything worked splendidly. The cultivators were then set so as to stir the subsoil to a depth of nearly eleven inches. Here again the plough worked well, and though it came rather hard on the six horses, the trial was a most satisfactory one. The cultivators completely broke up the hard clay subsoil. All being over the visitors dispersed, having expressed themselves as highly satisfied with all they had seen. The day’s work being over, I was driven by Mr. Stott to his residence and works at Alma, and was really surprised at finding so complete an establishment in so out of the way a place. In the carpenter’s shop there were vehicles in all states of forwardness, from the incipient frame to the finished article, while the extensive shop, built from iron, in which there were seven fires, was a pattern. What with lathes, punches, iron cutters, &c., everything seemed complete. The wants of the inner man having been satisfied and the time having arrived, a drive of about eight miles brought us to the Hamley Bridge station, when bidding adieu to my friends I was soon on my way home.




The Advertiser (Adelaide, S.A.), 17 February 1934:-


FIRST USE IN S.A. To the Editor

Sir—Re stump jumping ploughs, Mr. J. W. Stott, of Alma, made the first that was put to practical use about 1878 or 1879, and registered it for two years. It was a very crude affair of four furrows. Mr. Jeremiah Branson had the first one, and he gave the idea to my late father, who worked it out. The late Mr. Robert Caldwell had one of the ploughs with some of his ideas on it. At that time no other maker was known. G. P. D. Whittaker, of Dowlingville, wrote to ask my father for permission to make them, and to him is the credit for the best improvement at that time—each plough working on its own hinge or pin. J. W. Stott established at Joubert & Twopenny’s exhibition, and the “Observer” of August 20. 1831 recorded that J. W. Stott of Alma exhibited one four furrow SJ plough, which the judges said was “worthy of first order of merit.” “The Observer” of September 21, 1881 stated that J. W. Stott was awarded a special prize. No other exhibitor at S.J. ploughs was there. J. W. Stott was a regular exhibitor at the old showground for years, also a member of the committee. Just fifty years ago he had an SJ plough at the Calcutta Exhibition, and I have the certificate he received in my possession. He showed the plough and won first prizes at shows at Adelaide, Tarlee, Orroroo, Quorn, Port Gernein, Laura, Willowie, Kadina, Minlaton, Paskeville, Balaklava, Snowtown and Warracknabeal (Vie). He was the first to introduce the plough into Victoria, where he and Mellor Bros. jointly patented it. Re the bridle, I believe Mellor Bros. brought out that idea. The first to put in a crop was Mr. Mullins, of Wasleys, who used a forked log, with tines bent backwards to slide over the stumps. He had his first plough from J. W. Stott while the late Professor Custance was at Roseworthy College. The suggestion that the first plough was made at Booleroo Centre has no foundation.—l am. Sir &c.


JAMES STOTT, Brinkworth


The Stott Family: Adelaide, South Australia