By MAX FATCHEN
In dark, chilly fields 20 miles north of Adelaide this week, a night farming blitz has been getting under way.
Lights glow in the paddocks as farmers with tractors tuned to finest pitch, work furiously to prepare their ground for seeding after the weekend rains. Lack of autumn rains had held up this preparation. In a night tour to see how the farmers were progressing. I found some of them were spending up to 18 hours in their tractor seats with brief breaks only for hasty meals and refuelling. In the Smithfield district, brothers Ken and Gordon Andrews were covering 70 acres a day with their two big tractors. And when we tramped across a fallow paddock at 8 p.m. they were hard at it.
Bottle of coffee
Said Mr. Gordon Andrews: 'We've got to sow about 375 acres of wheat, oats, barley, and peas. Right now we're discing up ground for peas. Nestling against the engine of his tractor was a bottle of coffee. He said: 'Keeps it warmer than a thermos.' In a nearby paddock Mr. Mervin Griffiths was cultivating with his, big tractor by moonlight. He said: 'When it gets too black I light a pressure lamp on the front of the tractor. Well rugged up, Mr Griffith added: 'This job reminds me a bit of night flying over in Britain during the war. There's the same noise of an engine, and it's nearly as cold.'
Three miles west, by the little hamlet of Angle Vale. Mr. Harold Worden was well on with his seeding. He pulled up his big tractor and said with a grin: 'I want to get the seeding well over before the Test broadcasts.' Eighteen miles away on the frigid slopes by Freeling. Mr. Edgar Schuster and his son. Merv, were working on a timetable from daylight to midnight with their two tractors. It was 10 p.m. when we found Mr. Schuster, refuelling his tractor from a big overhead tank. Nearby, Merv — the fifth generation of Schusters to work the land — was preparing a paddock.
After we'd driven up to the paddock. Mr. Schuster said: 'This paddock went 12 bags of peas to the acre last year.' He picked up a handful of earth: 'It’s left the soil very mellow. You can feel the goodness in it.' Mr. Schuster will sow about 400 acres of wheat, peas, and barley. He will start seedling next week. And this scene was being repeated in other parts of the State. Phone calls from Brentwood and Ardrossan on Yorke Peninsula told how farmers there were out working their land at night making up that vital leeway.
The Mail Saturday 23 May 1953