Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station to showcase rich history

AN open day at theNSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station on Saturday, September 21 will acknowledge the rich history of the site and highlight the latest research.

NSW DPI farm supervisor, George Carney, said the first plots were sown at the research site in 1905, as part of William Farrer's efforts to revolutionise the Australian wheat industry.

"These plots, 1000 acres (400 hectares), were excised from the Cowra town common and are now part of the Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station," Mr Carney said.

"Farrer designed the original barn, known as the Pridham Centre, which was named after John Theodore Pridham, a prominent wheat breeder who worked with Farrer."

Early work focused was on wheat variety evaluation, seed production and distribution, seeding rates, sowing times, fertilisers, ploughing and harvesting methods.

During the early days, fencing trials, economic evaluation, pasture varieties and grazing trials helped support agriculture in NSW.

Student quarters were built in 1911 with training conducted until 1938. Up to 1264 students benefited from the agricultural training. The Women's Land Army occupied the quarters until the end of World War II. Erosion control measures started in 1929, with the development of the first contour banks in Australia and in 1938, 2000 acres of the station became the Soil Conversion Service.

A new office building was erected in 1978 with extensions in 1985 and 1998, when it housed the Advisory Staff Group Activities Unit.

The station has had a strong connection with sheep breeding, lamb and wool production and conducted most of the preliminary objective measurements of sheep and lambs to help develop LambPlan - which now tests the majority of terminal sires in Australia.

Research at Cowra has focused on meat and carcass quality, reproductive performance, lamb survival and heat stress. Everyone is welcome to the open day with presentations from DPI staff and farm walks on the program. Registrations for the walks at 10am, 11:30am and 1pm should be made online, and search "Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station Open Day".

Morning tea and lunch will be available to purchase from Cowra CWA Evening Branch and Cowra Rotary Club.