Upbeat mood lifts Newdegate

Kate PollardCountryman

Numbers were up at last week's 41st Newdegate Machinery Field Days, which featured the theme Innovation in Agriculture.

More than 9500 visitors inspected the exhibition space, which was full with 476 exhibits.

NMFD president Keith Hams said it was a huge success with an upbeat feeling across the grounds.

"We were up 900 people across the two days, had record entries in the State ewe hogget competition and a full listing of exhibitors," he said.

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"The number of fleeces entered were also up and the technology shed is starting to take shape.

"The overall message I got was that people were feeling very positive."

Machinery dealers dubbed the 2013 event as one of the best field days in years thanks to the renewed optimism, with plenty of genuine sales inquires on the back of a more positive growing season in the southern part of the State.

Newdegate farmer Robert Newman said it was shaping up to be a good season for local growers.

"The crops throughout the whole of the Lake Grace and Ravensthorpe area are looking very well," he said.

"If we get through without too much frost, the potential is very good for every farmer because the crops are so consistent."

Attracting plenty of curiosity was an 18m (60 foot) Durus Quantum draper platform by Queensland company Midwest Fabrication, winner of the Best New Innovation Award.

Midwest Fabrication marketing manager Roy Matthews said it was custom built for a grain grower in WA's south and another four have been ordered after exhibiting at field days across Australia.

With Class 9 headers now operating up to 650 horsepower, Mr Matthews said, economically, fronts needed to go wider.

"It's a prime example of innovation. It's the biggest…I'd say in two or three years, this will be fairly normal over here," he said.

To help celebrate just how innovative WA's agriculture industry is, the NMFD committee worked with the Grains Research and Development Corporation to recognise Darkan farmer Ray Harrington as the inaugural Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award.

Along with his brother David, they pioneered and developed no-till farming, after which Mr Harrington developed the Harrington Seed Destructor, which destroys weed seeds during harvest.

"It's very humbling to be recognised by industry and the people I have worked with over the last 40 years have been very important," he said.

Mr Harrington will use the award funds for travel to research technology for his next project - eradicating surviving summer weeds, particularly in the east.

Working with the Department of Agriculture in Queensland, Mr Harrington said it will also be applicable to WA.

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