Allan Beare developed his strong affinity for soils, their conservation & agriculture in general on his parent’s farm at Nantawarra in the mid-North of SA.
He was educated at the Beaufort Primary School & then at Kadina and Adelaide Boys High School. He was awarded a University of Adelaide bursary & studied agricultural science at the Waite and Roseworthy College, graduating in 1937. He married his late wife Betty in 1941.
Allan joined the SA Department of Agriculture in 1938 as a research officer & district adviser in horticulture. He enlisted for WWII war service, but his skills in agriculture were deemed essential for providing food for the army.
In 1945, his career pathway in the Department changed from horticulture to soils. He was the first Senior Research Officer to be appointed to the Soil Conservation Branch (SCB). In this period, he demonstrated at Wanbi that cereal rye sown with 3:1 super-ammonia mixtures stabilised sand dunes. He was Chief of the SCB & Soil Conservator from 1956 until his retirement in 1976.
During this period, SA agricultural areas expanded rapidly & much needed to be known about the requirements of newly developed soils. The SCB comprised district soil advisers, soil researchers and soil engineers. It was responsible for scrub inspections, providing & promoting soil conservation measures to mitigate wind & water erosion, identifying & researching soil fertility requirements of different soils and offering services for farm water conservation and irrigation schemes.
Many new graduate staff were recruited to SCB during Allan’s tenure as Chief & deployed to tackle these diverse issues. With assistance from a core group of senior staff, good esprit de corps developed within the Branch. He encouraged staff to undertake post-graduate training.
Allan was a true gentleman with an incisive intellect & a vision for the future. His approach with staff was simple & respected – supportive, non-interfering and ‘the door is always open’. Progressively, he also ensured that research staff had access to modern field and laboratory equipment, most of which were housed at the Northfield Research Laboratories which he co-designed with Peter Barrow & Ted Carter.
During Allan’s tenure as Chief, SCB made several notable advances. These included: the distribution of soils and their properties on Eyre Peninsula, and the mid North/Yorke Peninsula regions were mapped & published; a survey of sandy land in the Ngarkat Conservation Park was undertaken & shown to be unsuitable for agricultural development; ecological investigations in the arid zone started & disc pitters were used to re-vegetate rangeland pastures; the fertility status of agricultural soils & their fertiliser requirements became better defined; a government soil testing service was introduced for farmers; benefits of fallowing quantified; areas of land surveyed for contour banking & furrowing in SA steadily increased & vineyards were contour-planted.
Allan Beare was a long-time member of AIAST & our collective sympathies go to his family.
Bill Matheson OAM