I was born in 1938 in Liverpool England. Left school at 15 and by age 18, was a soldier in an elite British Army Regiment. After the army I gained a Returned Serviceman’s Scholarship to what is now Derbyshire Agricultural College. After a variety of positions in farm management and commerce migrated to Western Australia (WA) in 1967, together with my wife Lynne and infant daughter, Sarah.
My first job in WA was as a farm labourer on a wheat and sheep farm at Coorow.
Next to Mingenew to be head stockman at Erregulla Springs, with a merino sheep flock of about 15,000.
From Mingenew to the far north of WA to manage a one million acre (40,500 hectares) cattle station with supposedly 20,000 head of cattle, which turned out to be something of a Kimberley exaggeration.
Now with two daughters we returned to the WA wheat belt to manage ‘Wicka’, a property in the Chapman Valley in the northern wheat belt and located in one of the most picturesque parts of that region.
Wicka was some 12,000 hectares of which some 8,000 to 9,000 was cleared, with the rest under development.
The flock comprised anything up to 18,000 merinos and the cropping programme, depending on the year, up to 4000 hectares. Quite a big programme for the 1970s with four combines, four disc ploughs, scarifiers and so on.
It was the size of the cropping programme on a mixture of strong red clay loams and good sand plain that got me interested in what has become No-Till. That would have been in 1975 and using an ICI (Australia) product called Spray-Seed.
In 1978 I was recruited by ICI to head up what was called their Direct Drilling team in WA. I then became manager of ICI Rural in WA and then national marketing and sales manager of the ICI Rural business in Australia based in Melbourne.
It’s worth remembering that in 1978 many ‘experts’, especially in Departments of Agriculture said it couldn’t be done. ‘Direct Drilling was a waste of time,’ they said, ‘Because farmers will never give up the plough.’ No-Till is now the accepted method of crop establishment, and those who claim to have ‘invented’ it are legion, but none of them go back as far as myself and dozen or so farmers in WA who were using Spray-Seed for No-Till back in the mid 70s and showing it did work.
I left ICI to take up the position as marketing director of what at the time the biggest public relations firm in Perth, Quin, Spencer, Argo.
In the early 1990s I formed my own consultancy specialising in marketing Australian, mainly rural based technology, overseas.
That business and a small farming enterprise continued until serious illness about six years ago caused what was at the time a somewhat premature retirement, at least from full time work.
Back now to full health the ‘Global Farmer’ is designed to give everyone inside and outside of Australian agriculture the opportunity to contribute, have their say, in the development of this industry’s place in this ever shrinking and competitive world.
Lynne and I live in Albany, which is on the far south coast of Western Australia. We have two daughters and three grandchildren.