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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 1

I Groping In A Strange Environment: 1788-1851

II Farmers Take The Initiative: 1851-1888
i Setting the scene for change
ii A transplanted community; a transplanted technology
iii The development of appropriate technology
iv Importation, adaptation and innovation in cropping
v Introduction and innovation in livestock husbandry

III Enter Education And Science: 1888-1927

IV Agricultural Science Pays Dividends: 1927-1987

V Examples Of Research And Development 1928-1988

VI International Aspects Of Agricultural Research

VII Future Prospects

VIII Acknowledgements



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The development of appropriate technology (continued)

In South Australia in the 1840s harvest labour was scarce and the price of wheat was low. This prompted endeavours by various people to invent a machine that could take the place of human labour in the wheat harvest. Eventually, in 1843, John Ridley, a flour miller, successfully developed the stripper as a working machine. It was a box with a comb mounted in front and a rotating beater placed behind the comb. As the stripper was pushed (later pulled) through the crop the wheat heads were drawn through the comb and then removed by the beater and collected in the box. The resultant mixture of grain and chaff was then separated in a small stationary winnower. In this hot, dry climate where the grain ripened on the stalk and the straw was of little value, the stripper represented a major advance on the laborious harvesting of wheat by hand with a sickle, followed by stooking, drying, stacking and threshing. A horse-drawn stripper could quickly and profitably harvest large areas of sparse, low-yielding wheat. Moreover, the stripper could be manufactured easily in small, local engineering works.

To be operated effectively it required a hot, dry climate in which the grain heads became dry and brittle. Because moister crops in wetter areas would not strip satisfactorily, it was an innovation that greatly favoured the dry areas for wheat growing. By 1857, half of the South Australian wheat crop was being harvested by machine and, following the spread of wheat growing into the drier areas of Victoria, the stripper was widely adopted there in the 1880s.[26]

People in Bright Sparcs - Ridley, John

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© 1988 Print Edition page 11, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher