Over five decades, Ray Harrington has demonstrated extraordinary skills to combat real problems in Western Australia’s two major agricultural segments, sheep and cropping, and his solutions were quickly taken up nationally and internationally.
In the sheep industry, his name appears on the Harrington Crutching Cradle, the Harrington Sheep Jetting Race and the Harrington Vee Sheep Handling Machine, all familiar devices for improving efficiency and reducing physical work in the husbandry of animals.
Similarly, in cropping, Agmaster Harrington No-Till points have been a major factor in ecologically-sustainable cultivation of soil and the Harrington Seed Destructor is now a viable component of integrated pest management options world-wide for reducing reliance on chemical herbicides.
The breadth of his contributions and the practicality of these machines is unparalleled in state and Australian agriculture.
As a practicing farmer he has been generous in sharing his innovations. He has lectured on his many areas of specialism across the world and interacted strongly in grower organisations and local groups which ensured rapid uptake and effective use of his inventions which have made a big impact on Western Australian agriculture.
Yet for all his achievements, Ray remains a humble and grounded man who gains satisfaction from the success that others have had by using his inventions and in sharing his achievements with others.
“It’s all a bit surreal, really”, he explains.
“Everything I’ve done has been a team effort. My brothers, David and Douglas – professors, engineers, manufacturers, scientists, researchers and my family – each with their own knowledge and experience that made each piece of machinery possible. Without them, I certainly wouldn’t be getting any of this. They deserve just as much credit as I do.
“If there’s anything that I can claim credit for, it’s being single, bloody minded! A lot of the inspiration has come from elsewhere; but the perspiration is just as important.”
Ray says that all the ingredients for his success are evident in his wider family. He describes his father as possessing a ‘have a go’ attitude to life and that his mother possessed an innovative spirit. Between them, they inspired a young Ray to be imaginative and driven.
He insists that he is an ‘innovator’, rather than an inventor and points to the famous Harrington Seed Destructor as proof that his successes have been down to a combination of hard work, the people his has encountered in his work and a small amount of luck.