Prominent industry people

This section lists industry people who have made a significant contribution to the achievements and success of agriculture in South Australia and Australia.

Where information is available from a readily available source a link is provided to access the information.

For each Prominent Person a short summary is provided with links to the information. In some instances there is more than one source of information.

This list of Prominent People should be read in conjunction with information in the Oral Histories and Obituaries sections.

A number of lists have been used to compile the list of prominent industry people:

  • A compilation of prominent people in the history of agriculture in South Australia by VK Lohmeyer.
  • Prominent people in the wool industry.
  • The publication, "SA's Greats, published by the Historical Society of SA, provides information on "The men and women of the North Terrace Plaques". The Historical Society of SA has given permission to list those involved in agriculture. Access digital copies of the profiles.
  • The Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, based in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University, was officially launched in 2006. The Australian Dictionary of Biography is a national, co-operative enterprise in Australian historical scholarship that began in the late 1950s. ADB Online publishes the text of the 17 printed volumes as a database with links to other resources. More than 10 000 articles on 11 000 people who have played a significant role in Australia’s history are now available free online providing concise, accurate accounts of the lives of important people in Australia’s history. The articles range between 500 and 6000 words each. The ADB Online has a range of search options from a simple text search right through to some very sophisticated structured searches by categories such as occupation, cultural heritage and religious influences. Go to Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.

ADAM, David Bonar (1900–1951)

After a period as plant pathologist with the Victorian Department of Agriculture, he accepted a position as Head of the Department of Plant Pathology at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute in 1934, a post which he held until his death.

At the Waite Institute he commenced a study of the serious disease of wheat in South Australia known as “Take-all’ or “White Heads” and caused by the soil-borne fungus Ophiobolus graminis. He continued with this study until his death, examining not only the mycological aspects of the disease but also the agronomic studies have provided the basic information and understanding of the disease, enabling farmers, by sound agronomic practices, to mitigate its ravages.

BULL, John (1804–1886)

Recognised as the inventor of the principle of beating heads off a standing grain crop, which was incorporated into the successful mechanical stripper constructed by Ridley in 1843.

CUSTANCE, John Daniel (1842–1923)

Was appointed as the first Professor of Agriculture by SA Govt. in 1881, a position which he retained until 1887, and he was the first Principal of Roseworthy Agricultural College (1883–1886). He tested many cereal varieties and grasses. He recognised the need for phosphates for wheat and established the first experimental plots at Roseworthy which demonstrated this need. He recommended the use of superphosphate as the most economical form of phosphate fertilizer.

GLUYAS, Henry Inglis (1863–1936)

A farmer at Port Germein, SA, in 1894. He selected from Ward’s Prolific an off-type which he increased and distributed as Early Gluyas. Was for 30 years from 1910 onward, a leading variety in the drier areas of Australia.

In 1924 Early Gluyas displaced Federation from position of leading variety in SA and maintained this position until 1930 when it was relegated to second place by Nabawa. Early Gluyas was one parent of the later varieties Nabawa, Bencubbin and Bungulla.

HOWARD, Amos William (1848–1930)

On October 3rd 1964 a memorial was unveiled by the Premier of SA at Blakiston in the Adelaide Hills. The inscription on the base of the memorial read:

“In 1889 Amos William Howard found subterranean clover growing at the foot of the slope below this memorial. He recognised its great promise and was the pioneer of its use in sown pastures. He harvested the first seed and distributed it widely throughout Australia.

Through Howard’s foresight, devotion and tireless effort, the value of subterranean clover was firmly established and it has become the most important pasture plant in Australia. By transforming millions of acres of infertile soils into productive pasture lands it has multiplied our flocks and herds. By restoring the fertility of large tracts of worn out wheat lands it has increased our harvests.

The work of this man has contributed in generous measure to Australia’s progress and prosperity.”

JOHNSTON, Worsley Clifton (1902–1959)

Worsley Clifton Johnston was born in 1902 at Bunbury, Western Australia. He was appointed as a District Agricultural Adviser in the early 1930s. His first appointment was to Riverton where he had an office in Moorhouse Terrace. He later became officer in charge of the Kybybolite Research Centre near Naracoorte.

Mr Erol Polden who worked as a Poultry Adviser, from the Riverton Office between 1949 and 1969 has provided the following information extracted from “Riverton – Heart of the Gilbert Valley” by Mary Burrows, which acknowledges Worsley Johnston’s considerable contributions to South Australian natural history.

“The late Mr Worsley Johnston R.D.A. who was Agricultural Adviser in the early thirties made a close study of the vegetation of the district and listed 521 species of plants which he had seen growing wild in and around Riverton”

“The late Mr. W. Johnston, R.D.A. has observed 105 species of birds in the Riverton district. He compiled a list with brief notes on each species”.

Worsley Johnston went on to serve at Pt Lincoln where he continued his interests as a Naturalist besides his service as a general Agricultural Adviser.

LOWRIE, William (1858 – 1933)

Became the second Principal of Roseworthy College (1887–1901) and in 1911, accepted the position of Director of Agriculture, which he occupied until 1914.

Recognised the importance of Custance’s experiments and became a strong advocate of the use of superphosphate, advising this to be drilled in with seed. Advocated the importance of efficient bare fallows to eliminate weeds. Encouraged farmers to experiment, setting up experimental plots in many areas of the wheat belt, demonstrating the value of superphosphate. Was largely responsible for the acceptance by farmers of systematic use of superphosphate for cereal growing.

MARSHALL, Richard (1838–1923)

A farmer at Wasleys, SA from 1865 – 1899, he practised selection for rust resistance together with cross breeding to produce new wheat varieties. From a cross of Ward’s Prolific with one of the purple strawed varieties, the variety Marshall’s No. 3 was produced at about the same time as Federation. By 1910 this had become one of the most popular wheats in Australia.

From a selection of a cross of Marshall’s No 3 x Farmers Fife Indian wheat he produced Yandilla King which was named in 1907. By 1915 Yandilla King stood next to Federation as the most popular wheat in Australia.

MOLINEUX, Albert (1832–1909)

As journalist and editor for over thirty years Albert Molineux was closely associated with agricultural progress in South Australia during the period of the late 19th C. and early 20th C.

The Agricultural Bureau System was developed largely by his inspiration and under his guidance. At the inaugural meeting of the Bureau in 1888 he became its first secretary, a position which he retained until 1902. During this period he was not only active in lecturing to farmers on matters of agricultural interest, but he was successful in extending the Bureau system to many areas in the State, with over 100 branches. The Agricultural Bureau was responsible for the rapid distribution and testing of new plant species and wheat varieties.

PERKINS, Arthur James (1871–1944)

Distinguished career in Government Service in SA at Roseworthy Agricultural College and in the Department of Agriculture. Occupied the positions of Professor of Oenology 1892–1901, Secretary of Agriculture 1902–1904, Principal Roseworthy Agricultural College 1904–1914, Director of Agriculture 1914–1936.

Was a prominent experimentalist in many fields of agriculture and horticulture, conducting many trials on cultivation of cereals, including depth of sowing , burning, effect of cultivations, rotations and manuring practices. He was prominent in the improvement of cereals by systematic selection. During the latter part of his career he was particularly concerned with agriculture economics.

PRIOR, Samuel (1821–1904)

A farmer at Brighton SA, credited with the selection of the malting barley variety Prior, which was first grown by him in SA in 1900. This variety was widely distributed by the maltsters, Merrs. Barrett Bros and spread to Victoria and WA, becoming the most important malting barley variety in the Commonwealth.

RICHARDSON, Arnold Edwin Victor (1883–1949)

Distinguished service to the profession of agricultural science in Australia. Among his many positions he served as Assistant Director of Agriculture SA 1909–11; Superintendent of Agriculture Victoria and part time lecturer in Agriculture at the University of Melbourne 1911–19; first Director of the School of Agriculture, University of Melbourne, 1920–24; first director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute in 1924. He was appointed to the Executive Committee of the CSIR in 1938 and later to its post of Chief Executive Officer which he occupied until his death in 1949.

While in Victoria he established research farms at Werribee and Rutherglen and the Longerenong Agricultural College. He was responsible for the cross which produced the wheat variety Gallipoli and supervised the selection work at Longerenong resulting in the production of the very successful variety Ranee.

His vision and energy were responsible for establishing the Waite Agricultural Research Institute as the leading agricultural research centre of the Commonwealth.

RIDLEY, John (1808–1887)

Builder of the first successful wheat harvesting machine in Australia in 1843 which permitted the growing of grain on broad acres.

SCHOMBURGK, Richard (1811–1891)

While occupying the position of Director of the Botanic Gardens, in Adelaide he was responsible for the introduction of many new plant species and varieties to the Colony which he widely distributed to farmers to determine suitability. In 1881 he introduced the wheat variety Du Toit from South Africa. It was from this variety that Ward’s Prolific was selected.

SCOTT, Robert Colin (1894–1950)

While on staff of Roseworthy Agricultural College as Plant Breeder, he in collaboration with W. J. Spafford, developed the variety Ford. Scott was responsible for the selection and final fixation of the variety.

In 1920 he developed the variety Sword from a cross of Ford and Sultan, which was released in 1925. This became the 3rd leading wheat variety grown in SA, with more that 360,000 acres grown in 1935.

SMITH, Richard Bowyer (1838 – 1919)

A farmer at Ardrossan who invented the “Stump Jump” plough in 1876, making it possible to sow grain on newly cleared Mallee land without the necessity of removing all of the tree stumps from the area.

SPAFFORD, Walter John (1884–1962)

Distinguished career in Government Service in SA at Roseworthy Agricultural College and with Department of Agriculture. Appointed Deputy Director of Agriculture in 1927 and occupied position of Director of Agriculture from 1936 until his retirement in 1949. He was also chairman of the Australian Barley Board for many years.

While plant breeder at Roseworthy College, he developed a number of successful wheat varieties, Ford in collaboration with Scott, Sultan and Felix being among the more successful. Also made a late-maturing selection of the variety Gluyas.

STEINWEDEL, August Wilhelm (1834–1924)

A farmer at Dalkey SA. He selected a few tall plants from a crop of Champlain’s Hybrid, an American wheat variety which was otherwise a failure. The selection was named Steinwedel and this variety was grown extensively in the drier areas of the Australian wheat belt from 1890–1910.

Has been used as a parent for yielding capacity and drought resistance. The varieties Bobin, Sword, and Ford, bred at Roseworthy, had Steinwedel as one parent.

WARD, James

A farmer at Nelshaby near Port Pirie who in 1882 selected rust free plants from the wheat variety Du Toit which had been sent to him by Dr Schomburgh By 1885 he had increased his selection to over 200 bags. The selection, named Ward’s Prolific, was not markedly affected by stem rust and grew well in drier districts and became the most widely grown wheat in SA. It has been used extensively as a parent in wheat breeding.

Prominent People of the Wool Industry in South Australia

Prominent People of the Wool Industry in South Australia (PDF 100.8 KB).

List of people who were commemorated in the nomenclative of Canberra for their outstanding contributions to the sheep and wool industry in South Australia. The list was prepared in November 1968 at the request of the Federal Department of the Interior

Page Last Reviewed: 20 Nov 2017
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