Educator, farmer in hall of fame

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
Royal Agricultural Society of WA 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Peter Trefort and portrait artist Felicia Lowe at the unveiling ceremony at the Claremont Showgrounds' David Buttfield House.
Camera IconRoyal Agricultural Society of WA 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Peter Trefort and portrait artist Felicia Lowe at the unveiling ceremony at the Claremont Showgrounds' David Buttfield House. Credit: Bob Garnant

Agricultural Hall of Fame 2018 inductees UWA emeritus professor Alan Robson AO and the late Eric Farleigh, a former Boyup Brook pioneering farmer, were acknowledged for their contribution to agriculture at last week’s Royal Agricultural Society of WA’s ceremonial luncheon.

The two agricultural giants will be immortalised through portrait work, which will be unveiled next year at the Claremont Showground’s David Buttfield House, where 61 previous RASWA AHF inductees have been displayed.

The unveiling of the 2017 inductee, Q-Lamb creator Peter Trefort, of Narrogin, was a highly anticipated event of the day.

RASWA president Paul Carter welcomed the many distinguished guests including WA Governor Kerry Sanderson.

He said since the 1999 inception of the Wesfarmers-sponsored AHF, 36 inductees were from WA, six were from the Eastern States and 19 were from overseas origins.

“Three inductees served as members of Parliament and four won the coveted Governors Cup including the late Lou Giglia (inducted in 2012), who was awarded the Queen’s Cup in 1981,” he said.

“During his role as RASWA president, Lou was the driving force behind the commencement of the AHF and his vision and passion lives on.”

Mr Carter said David Buttfield House was the heart of the Claremont Showgrounds and would remain so to inspire current and future generations.

He said the amazing repository of agricultural and rural excellence represented a huge collective influence towards WA agriculture, the State’s economic finances, and its community and cultural achievements.

Professor Robson said he was absolutely delighted to be inducted into the AHF and to join the ranks of many people he had known and regarded.

An internationally recognised agricultural scientist, Professor Robson’s research interests include the mineral nutrition of plants and soil fertility. He was instrumental in the collaborative development of a plant test for diagnosing copper deficiency in wheat.

Other important areas of his research included the interactions between plant nutrition and symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes and identifying specific roles of nutrients.

Professor Robson had an enviable reputation as an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and dynamic lecturer in soil science and plant nutrition.

Eric Farleigh (1898 to 1988), a Hawkesbury Agricultural College graduate, took up 920ha in Boyup Brook which was deemed unsuitable for soldier resettlement by the Repatriation Board in 1924.

Mr Farleigh’s intuitiveness in combining lime with basic phosphate to fertilise soil, and how subterranean clovers worked towards soil fertility were his soil improving legacies.

Through his work, the measuring of soil PH and judicious application of lime fertilisers is now a common practise for the WA farming community. David Farleigh said his grandfather’s lifetime of passion, perseverance, love of soil science, nutrition, pasture and livestock was a pioneering farming success story.

“Eric’s education and research legacy lives on through opportunities afforded to today’s young people, who also aspire to establish careers in the State’s agri-industries, with his generous giving of the Rylington Park estate in 1985 to the Shire of Boyup Brook,” he said.

Attending her last agriculture function, as WA Governor, Dr Sanderson said she congratulated the RASWA for the establishment of its Agricultural Hall of Fame and was impressed by the contributions of all past and present inductees.

“Today’s inductees were extremely worthy,” she said.

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