Shannon Experimental Farm

The acquisition of the Shannon Experimental Farm was announced in the Director's Report for the 1909/10 Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture. The following is a copy of the article;

"The department has acquired the use of block 36 in the hundred of Shannon, comprising 1,164 acres, for experimental purposes, and steps have been taken to use the block as an experimental station to deal with the special agricultural problems of Eyre Peninsula.

The block contains areas of soil characteristic of the neighboring hundreds, and the results of experimental work on this farm will be of great value to a large area of the surrounding country.

Mr. W. T. McLean, formerly assistant manager of the Murray Bridge Farm, has been appointed manager.

Work was commenced on the farm somewhat late in the season, and, consequently, only 85 acres crop could be put in, and most of this, of course, will be cut for hay.

In view of the large area of land to be opened up for settlement by the extension of the Port Lincoln railway the work done on this experimental farm, and on experimental farm plots under its auspices, will be watched with great interest by all those settlers who are to develop the potentialities of this vast western wheat province."

The closure of the Farm was announced by the Director of Agriculture in the 1912/13 Annual Report

The general overview of the closures is as follows:

"I believe the feeling in favor of the multiplication of experimental farms to some extent arises from an imperfect comprehension of the proportion of value accruing from them to the average farmer. The fact is overlooked that one farm differs from another in soil, subsoil, degree of exhaustion, etc., and that the practice suitable on one farm might be impracticable on another only a few miles away. That each farm fundamentally is a law unto itself is a proposition generally true, and accordingly the many questions of general practice occurring to every farmer can only be fully answered by trials on his own land—quantities of manure most profitable, mixtures of manures, depth of tillage, varieties of cereals, etc.—which he himself ought to conduct. I believe, therefore, that the appropriation necessary to maintain the farms which have been closed would be much better employed in agricultural education, and the extension of experimental plots conducted by farmers under the direction of the department on the farmer’s own land. It is vain to think to have experimental farms in the State representative of all the many degrees of varying capacityof the soils and climatic conditions of the State. An experimental farm can only offer general indications in respect of methods and practice, the particular modifications to adapt this practice to any particular farm must be made by the farmer himself. The farms retained fully meet the requirements for the State, viz. Kybybolite for much of the South-East country ; Veitch’s Well for the mallee land of low rainfall, say 11in - to 13in.; and the College Farm, Roseworthy, for the better class of mallee lands, wherever situated; Turretfield for the strong wheat lands of higher capacity ; and Booborowie for the high-lying wheat areas of the North. Accordingly, no good purpose was served by the unnecessary duplication which obtained W the number of farms was reduced. Further, there were particular reasons which justified the closing of these respective farms."

The specific argument for the closure of the Shannon Experimental Farm is as follows:

"I have no hesitation in saying that this farm was an unfortunate selection for the purpose of experiments to be of use to the West Coast farmers. The farm was quite unsuitable for experimentpurposes, the soil being exceptionally uneven and patchy, interspersed thickly with stones and boulders and with rock outcropping over extensive irregular areas. The capacity of the farm, further, is below the average of the West Coast lands suitable for wheat-growing, and the results would tend to discourage settlement. I am satisfied that the experiments conducted at the College Farm, Roseworthy, will much more use to Eyre’s Peninsula farmers than anything that could have been obtained at Shannon and for the drier belts of the West Coast areas likely to be developed, there is a closer analogy between the conditions at Veitch’s Well than would obtain in the case of Shannon."

Prepared by Don Plowman
May 2020

Page Last Reviewed: 05 May 2020
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