This section contains information about the major areas of activity where the Department of Agriculture has assisted development of South Australia, national and international agriculture industries. While initially established to develop and introduce new farming technology and improve the welfare of rural communities, the Department of Agriculture has played a key role in sustainable resource management and improving the economic competitiveness of agricultural industries.
Some key activities includes:
- introducing pest and disease programs that reduced the impact of major pest and diseases on various agricultural industries
- researching and developing new technologies that improved productivity of many agricultural industries
- disseminating and adopting new technologies to the farming community through education and extension programs
- supporting the development of farm and agricultural businesses through economic and marketing activities
- delivering financial assistance to farming communities during periods of drought and other disasters
- using overseas projects to deliver Australian skills and knowledge in dryland farming systems to other countries
- being a major international contributor to development of soil and plant nutrition technologies.
Overview of Department of Agriculture Programs
Prior to the creation of the Department of Agriculture in 1902, the South Australian government relied on the Agricultural Bureaux movement (1888) and the research and teaching work at Roseworthy Agricultural College (1882) for the dissemination of information to people in the agricultural, livestock and horticultural industries.
Roseworthy Agricultural College was headed up by a Professor of Agriculture (Professor J.D. Custance appointed 1882) who taught the sciences of analytical chemistry, physiology and agriculture to help farmers overcome many of the problems they faced. The 1,000 acre model farm at Roseworthy Agricultural College was used to deliver descriptive lessons on soil, plants, trees, animals, manures and machinery to pupils.
The Department of Agriculture expanded this role of collecting and disseminating information to people. Government experiment farms were initially the main method used for development and delivery of agricultural technology to the South Australian farming community. Experiment farms and orchards were established in 1905 at Parafield, Murray Bridge, and Kybybolite (South East), and in 1908 at Turretfield (Barossa Valley), Hackney, Blackwood, Loxton and Veitch (northern Murray mallee).
A network of offices was subsequently established in districts across the state, reaching a peak in the early 1980s. Staff delivered a range of services including:
- preventing or reducing spread of new pests and diseases
- providing technical, economic, marketing and home information to assist development of more vibrant and successful farming communities
- registering fertilizers and agricultural chemicals
- administering drought, flood, storm and other Government assistance to assist farming communities in recovering from a range of natural disasters.