The Department of Agriculture, established in 1902, had a role in collecting and disseminating information to people in agricultural, pastoral and horticultural pursuits.
Government experimental farms and orchards (usually of not less than 500 acres) were established in 1905 at Parafield (Adelaide plains), Murray Bridge and Kybybolite (South East), and in 1908 at Turretfield (Barossa Valley), Hackney and Blackwood (metropolitan Adelaide), Loxton and Veitch (northern Murray mallee).
These experimental farms tested the capabilities of the soil in various districts and promote practical agricultural education rather than illustrate the most expensive systems of farming that might be adopted. New grains, grasses, fodder plants and manures were also be tested on these farms.
Some of these farms were to become the Agriculture Centres of the late 20th century, and which are now managed and operated by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).
There were two reviews of the SA Department of Agriculture Research Centres that I was executive officer for. The first was undertaken by the Research Policy Committee of the Department which was chaired by Jim McColl, Director-General and the committee included independent reviewers (Review of Research Centres – Technical Report No.32 (1983) SA Department of Agriculture).
The second review occurred in a major Organisational Development Review of the Department (1992). The following table summarises the research centres managed by the Department in 1983 and their status in 2007. In addition to these centres, the Department did have a research centre at Blackwood which was replaced by the purchase of Lenswood and one at Berri which was replaced by Loxton when the Loxton Irrigation Area was developed.