||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I Groping In A Strange Environment: 1788-1851
II Farmers Take The Initiative: 1851-1888
III Enter Education And Science: 1888-1927
IV Agricultural Science Pays Dividends: 1927-1987
V Examples Of Research And Development 1928-1988
i Land assessment
ii Improving the environment
iii Adapting to the environment
iv Improving farm management
VI International Aspects Of Agricultural Research
VII Future Prospects
Pasture improvement (continued)
Many English grasses and clovers had been introduced into New South Wales by the end of the 1820s and, by the 1860s, perennial and Italian ryegrass, cocksfoot, Timothy grass, red and white clover, cowgrass, alsike clover, lucerne, trefoil and parsley were being used in field trials at the Experimental Farm in Melbourne. Prairie grass, a native of South America, was introduced by Josiah Mitchell in 1853, and Paspalum dilatatum by Baron Ferdinand von Mueller in about 1881 together with many other fodder grasses. Both these species were quickly adopted for use in pastures for dairy cattle. Rhodes grass and Kikuyu were introduced respectively in 1900 and 1919.
After the First World War, rapid progress in pasture development was made in southern Australia where officers of the Departments of Agriculture, particularly J. E. Harrison in Victoria, and the staff of universities began to identify naturally existing strains of subterranean clover and other pasture species. These strains were found to be adapted by their growth characteristics to well defined local environments and, once this was recognized, farmers were advised of the most appropriate strains of pasture plants for their own particular conditions. From 1928 to 1935 a great deal of emphasis was placed on the breeding of new strains of important pasture species, particularly of subterranean clover, perennial ryegrass, cocksfoot and white clover. This work, and the associated development of seed certification schemes, was greatly influenced by similar studies reported by Sir George Stapledon and Dr. W. Davies at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station, Aberystwyth, and Sir Bruce Levy and his coworkers in New Zealand. The Welsh connection became extremely important to both Australia and New Zealand. Sir George Stapledon and Dr. William Davies both made antipodean visits, and these were followed by a remarkable flow of migrant research agronomists, with names like Jones, Davies, Jenkins and Williams, from the United Kingdom to Australia and New Zealand. Most prominent among these was Dr. J. Griffiths Davies, the brother of Dr. William Davies, whose outstanding leadership greatly influenced Australian agronomy, particularly in the tropical north, for a period of some forty years.
The introduction and establishment of improved pastures was only the important beginning of the story. Their efficient use by grazing animals involved another series of investigations in which, again, the work of New Zealand researchers (like Dr. C. P. McMeekan and the staff of his Ruakura Research Centre) was greatly to influence agricultural scientists in Australia. Pioneer work in the 1950s by Dr. M. Freer at Werribee in Victoria and in the 1960s by Dr. (later Professor) H. L. Davies in Canberra demonstrated the overriding importance of stocking rate, rather than grazing system, as the major determinant of animal productivity per hectare. Further work by scientists throughout Australia confirmed and extended their results and the agronomic, parasitic, ecological and economic implications of variable stocking rates, using cattle and/or sheep, were gradually determined in different conditions of soil, rainfall and temperature.
People in Bright Sparcs - Davies, Dr (later Prof.) H. L.; Davies, Dr J. Griffiths; Freer, Dr M.; Harrison, J. E.; Mitchell, Josiah; von Mueller, Baron Ferdinand
© 1988 Print Edition pages 56 - 57, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher