Grower, R & B Harrington Farms, DARKAN WA
If there’s a challenge on his Western Australian farm, Ray Harrington isn’t perturbed.
He’ll just gnaw away at it in his mind and find a solution, whether it be handling sheep or coping with weed resistance.
Ray likes to think things through before he attempts any solution – in his words, it’s easier to rub out and change in his mind than it is on paper.
But he puts those thoughts into action, and has been a key player and one of the pioneers of sustainable farming methods in Australia and across the world, devoting more than 40 years to improving agricultural systems.
Ray saw what was happening to the soils on his farms and wanted to do things differently. With his brother, David, Ray designed a knife point system that allowed him to use no-till on his farms to sow crops. Together, Ray and David set the trend for no-till which is now widely accepted across Australia.
When another cropping problem started to rear its head – chemical resistance – Ray again thought this through to come up with the Harrington Seed Destructor. Technology borrowed from the coal industry has been applied to crush weed seeds as they leave the header. It renders 97 per cent of harvest weed seed non-viable by crushing the seed as it passes out the back of the harvester, then returns it to the ground as organic matter. Ray says it won’t replace chemicals but helps extend their longevity.
His over-arching desire is to find a farming system that is sustainable – in generating income and in protecting the environment in which it is carried out.
It is Ray’s passion for agriculture and his innovative mind that have led him to be a finalist in the 2017 Syngenta Growth Awards in the Sustainability category.