The Keyline (Research) Foundation
THIS chapter is written to acquaint the reader with the challengeof events which led to the formation of the Keyline (Research) Foundation, the laterchanges in the policy of that Foundation, and the results and altered plans for Keylinethat have now been made.
I published "The Keyline Plan" in 1954 after ten yearsof practical experience as a land owner and trying to develop a property in an areawhere the orthodox methods of pasture improvement had never been successful. If thingshad been otherwise, if the soil had been better or the climate a little less unfavourableand a modicum of soil improvement had followed my earlier efforts, Keyline wouldnot now be a much-discussed and controversial agricultural subject.
I became intrigued and absorbed in the land and the soil, andcould not keep it from my mind. Then some slight success convinced me that what Ihad envisaged for my land was not only possible, but that I could raise my aims tosomething much higher. I found the work which I was continuing to regard as failurewas to others great success. My water storages built in 1944 and 1945, and to mymind only the start of things, were considered as something outstanding by our visitors.My irrigated pastures of those years were to me an undertaking far from successfulbecause of cost and time factors. To others, however, the luxuriant-looking, andat that time spray-irrigated, pastures, growing with the aid of superphosphates onour impossible soils, were astounding. Then later, whenever I had occasion to openthe valves of my dams (which to me had always been the only method of getting waterout of a dam), most people were fascinated with the flowing water. I became moreambitious for the property and aimed at having over a thousand acres of the bestsoil, a water storage capacity that would hold all the run-off water on the property,and an irrigation set-up that could use the water almost as cheaply as when rainfalls directly on the soil. I did not want a scheme which only paid in the productionof highly valued special crops or special high value per acre enterprises. I wasinterested principally in the grazing of beef cattle and sheep.
With the first glimpses of Keyline I believed that 1 had happenedon something of outstanding importance. Keyline became an absorbing subject in ourhome with my two elder sons, both of whom have scientifically trained minds, andtheir friends of like ilk, pounding the theories of Keyline with all the enthusiasticfervour and imagination of youth. Before I had given even my first talk on Keylinejust about every possible attack and criticism had been introduced and talked intoits proper place.
I spent a lot of time trying out every aspect of Keyline, droppingmost other things that took much of my time, probing, testing and proving. Over twoyears went by and every aspect was proved, or so it appeared to me. One of the lastthings I ever expected to do was to write an agricultural book, but, convinced ofthe importance of my discoveries, I then wanted to write the book as quickly as possible.
"The Keyline Plan" was written, but when I discussedit with a publisher he said, "An agricultural book, eh! Sell about five hundred",and at my look of consternation he conceded, "Well, maybe seven hundred if it'sany good". This number would have made the cost per copy very high and he suggestedthat only by printing ten thousand could such a book be sold at a reasonable price.Certainly he would not be the one to say that ten thousand copies of an agriculturalbook could ever be sold in Australia. It had not been done before.
However, I published the book myself, printing ten thousandcopies. Many were given away to friends and other people, but the book did turn outto be an agricultural best seller, and few copies are available for sale anywherenow.
We, my family and I, awaited the first review with some trepidation.However, it was favourable and eventually we read forty other favourable reviews.Later, a few critical comments continued to promote and maintain interest in thebook.
Events then took a new turn. Farmers, scientists andstudents had been visiting my property in considerable numbers since 1944; now theKeyline book brought them in thousands. The book was written for farmers, but theorthodox agriculturalist and the scientist did not ignore it. Groups of scientistsof many interests in parties of a dozen or of a hundred, extension officers fromall over the State, land surveyors, bank valuers, teachers, students, and many otherscame, and I have talked to them all.
I had known many in the professional and academic fields priorto Keyline, but when the first visit was arranged for twenty such gentlemen, allhighly educated and experienced specialists in some branches of agriculture, I feltsome diffidence. What I had to do was deliver them a lecture on agriculture! I justhoped for the best but hardly expected it. The visit, however, was a complete success.They were not only wonderful fellows but they treated my work with a great deal ofrespect. They praised the experimental work as original and very valuable. They praisedmy poor soil of three years earlier and described it as incredibly rich. They puttheir hands into it, examined it closely and got friendly with some of my earthwormpopulation. They looked at everything, grass, roots of grasses, the nodulation ofclovers and lucerne, and seemed to enjoy digging for the deeper roots with my spade.They washed their dirty hands in the big flow of water from the outlet valve of oneor other of my dams and were just as interested as anyone else in seeing the waterflow. They praised these dams, and liked the big supply of water, thoroughly approvedof one at least of my ideas on irrigation where the outlet valve lets the water intoan irrigation drain and the plow pattern on the land takes control and spreads theirrigation water evenly.
Each was interested to talk of his own special subject, askedwhat I had done about this and that, and wanted my opinions on the application ofsome of their particular work if it were applied in a Keyline way.
One special group later was made up of ten to twelve scientistsfrom CSIRO, with one grazier whom they all knew, together with one of Australia'sleading land valuers who had been my guest a little over two years earlier. At theconclusion of our walk and my talk the CSIRO scientists were much more interestedto hear the grazier's opinion of what they had seen and heard than they were in firstexpressing their own. When one of the scientists, a notable soilsman, asked the grazierdid he think my pastures might collapse as his improved pastures had done recently,after being highly productive for a few years, every scientist there stopped to listento his reply. He replied, consciously addressing them all, "No! Not in yourlife, this is it, this is what I'll do at 'X'," naming his own property.
One of this group had earlier asked me what a certain paddockwas like two years ago. I told them the valuer saw it then and asked him to repeatto them his opinion of the area as he gave it to me a little over two years previously.He said something like this, "I told Mr. Yeomans about two and a half yearsago when first I saw his work here that this land was not worth two shillings anacre, but if he kept on with his work it could then be worth two shillings an acre."Then, with a smile, "You see, gentlemen, that I am right, as usual; it's nowworth every penny of two shillings an acre. Speaking seriously, though, what hashappened here in a little over two years is absolutely incredible. Where you havebeen digging into the good earth, all I could see then was yellow sand and sandstone!"(I have since paid £50 an acre for adjoining land to improve "Nevallan"and refused double this figure for my own property.)
The early reactions of farmers and the top-flight scientiststo my Keyline approach to land confirmed my own view on its ultimate scope and importance.The fact that I personally had originated the idea and developed the plan was justone of those inexplicable quirks of chance that do happen. But having done so, thenperhaps I should do something about it.
I considered the Keyline development of land something too bigand important for me to tie it to, any commercial enterprise and decided to discussits future development with men of sufficient stature to judge of its importanceand work out its future. This I did. All those whom I approached had read my book.On more than one occasion they had also visited "Nevallan", where the plandeveloped.
They agreed that the Keyline Plan was of sufficient importancefor us to make an effort to teach it widely, to apply it to farms and eventuallyto have it accepted as part of national agricultural policy. Thus was formed TheKeyline (Research) Foundation. I have paid my tribute to its founders in the dedicationof this book. Membership was invited. It was to be a researeh foundation, but, asthe founders considered that the merits of Keyline had already been proved in myown work, they would also do something that was immediately practical and organisea Keyline service to farmers and graziers. These matters were embodied in the constitutionand application was made to the proper authorities for the taxation considerationsthat apply to gifts of money allowed research organisations.
Membership fees were accepted but no large donations were soughtpending approval of the Foundation as a research organisation.
I had been appointed President, and as it was somewhat my "baby",my family and I made a substantial donation initially to bring the foundation toimmediate usefulness. A start was made with a service to farmer members and the foundationbegan to function. However, the Keyline Foundation was not approved in this manneras a research foundation for taxation purposes because the whole of the money wasnot intended to be used by an approved research organisation such as a University.This approval, we found, could not be given if we conducted any type of service tofarmers.
Now, it should be realised just what a great disappointmentthis decision was to the founders of the Keyline (Research) Foundation. We then hadin our minds the picture of a real national revival in agriculture and the conceptof a service to farmers was in fact the selling of an "idea" with appropriateassistance to put the Keyline concept into wide practice. It had, of course, beenfully realised that the work would have been very extensive and very costly to theFoundation when applied on a broad national scale, and that this could not be donemerely with the donations of the few founders. The farmers and graziers were actuallybeing asked to assist us financially and as well to conduct, on their own properties,Keyline experiments for the good of all. We also had plans that the Keyline (Research)Foundation would endow scholarships for special student and post-graduate study ofland, so that the broadest aspects would be thus assisted. Manifestly, there wereextremely wide areas for research embracing the different types of lands within theCommonwealth. The whole scheme then, solidly upheld by the founders, who are allpatriotic Australians, was frustrated by the narrow interpretation of the meaningof the word "research" (strangely enough determined by taxation authorities).Personally I had offered the suggestion that I close my agricultural business anddevote my time to Keyline work, but the point at issue was simply that we could notfunction as a research organisation. (with taxation benefits) unless all moneys werehanded over to an "approved" organisation such as a University, and suchofficial research would not only have been very costly but of necessity would needto duplicate all my earlier work and over a period of years. The Foundation was satisfiedthat Keyline was already sufficiently demonstrated in my work and that this longdelay was unnecessary. It was considered, further, that wider research would be accomplishedin a very practical way on the properties of the farmers who were anxious for ourearly assistance.
These matters are mentioned to show the difficulties which aroseagainst something which we all hoped would quickly influence national agriculture.Instead of the work progressing on a rapidly accelerating scale as we had fully expected,we were forced now to approach things in a pedestrian fashion. However, time moveson, and with the elapse of time many more farmers, graziers and scientists connectedwith all aspects of agriculture have become more interested in Keyline. My own furtherexperiments have widened its scope and confirmed its value, and the main aim of theFoundation, that of having Keyline accepted widely as national land development policy,has certainly not stagnated.
However, following the receipt of the information refusing recognitionof the Foundation as a research organisation, it was decided not to seek donationswhich would not be free of tax to the donors, and to conduct the service to farmersat a profit margin if possible.
The farmer has so many sources of free agricultural advice fromwell-paid officers, in fact it is almost thrust at him, that we soon found ourselvesin a very confused field. With agronomists, veterinary officers, soil conservationists,irrigation experts, forestry officers, and even road engineers discussing Keylineand expressing all sorts of views on the subject, there was naturally confusion inthe minds of landmen. Even so, it soon became apparent that there was quite a largenumber who were willing and anxious to help and to pay for Keyline service, and especiallyif the service could include something more than advice. They were interested inthe general planning of Keyline, the location and marking-in of the planning linesthemselves, a start on the soil development programme, the siting, location, designand construction of our dams, the layout and planning of irrigation areas under Keyline,and even the management of the full development of a property.
Several meetings of the Founders of the Keyline Foundation discussedall aspects of these matters, including the very high cost of conducting the workin which we were all so interested. Eventually it was decided that my private agriculturalbusiness organisation be asked to consider, and, if approved, draw up plans for institutinga Keyline service to farmers and graziers, a service which would include every aspectthat we were capable of handling. This service would then be run as a purely commercialundertaking.
It was fully realised that a certain stigma of "base commercialism"could attach itself to Keyline under these circumstances, but it was also consideredthat this straightforward practical business approach to farmers and graziers wouldbe the best way to serve the majority of farmers.
The decision to accept the proposal of the Keyline Foundationwas an easy one for me to make, but the big and significant decision was that whichthe other members then made. They decided, first of all, that the Keyline Foundation,with themselves as members, would continue; that its aims of doing all things toassist in scientific research on Keyline and the placing of Keyline before Governmentswould continue as its main aim and policy. Under the circumstances it would havebeen reasonable for them to consider that, even with their belief in the principlesand practices of Keyline, they had done all that could reasonably be expected ofthem, and that at this stage the Foundation should close. Their decision, which wasunanimous I am pleased to say, was more than I could have expected.
In deference to the members of the Keyline Foundation I havebeen at some pains in the past to avoid too close an association between Keylineand my agricultural business activities, but now that policy is reversed. Our agriculturalbusiness literally became a merchandising organisation to promote Keyline as a mainbusiness aim.
We had to move forward, and so commenced to explore every avenueof Keyline service that would provide revenue to do the job properly. We limitedour activities somewhat to those matters which directly assisted the main task ofproviding education and instruction on the various aspects and techniques of theKeyline Plan. From the Foundation's earlier experience we knew without question thatthe most money consuming aspect of the whole work was that of education.
We had to examine the business of Keyline in the same way asany other business activity must be viewed. We knew always that we had a basis forsuch a business by our complete confidence in the fact that our work and serviceswould always be very profitable to the farmers and graziers who use and employ them.But the presentation of the ideas in a manner that would provide revenue was a problemthat had to be discussed and worked out in some detail. Apart from implements andservices that we can provide and that will assist Keyline, we needed good men fullytrained in the new work. We had a satisfactory manufacturing set-up backed by a merchandisingorganization with a good team of men all keen on the job they were doing, and theywere capable of doing much more. One source of income from that business is the manufactureand sale of the Graham plow, which was my choice for one part of the Keyline developmentof my own properties and a new and revolutionary implement at the time I introducedthe chisel plow to Australian farmers and graziers. I had made a chisel plow in 1945and conducted many experiments with it, and while later the Graham plow had beenin use in other countries, a completely different, or Keyline, approach to cultivationwas now to be realised with the new implement. For one thing, from being merely aninstrument of deeper cultivation, it now became a soil maker by being used preciselyaccording to soil condition and climate. Then I had, from the basic overseas implement,redesigned our own make Graham plow to make it very strong and so resilient thatit would work on any land where a tractor could travel. Keyline pays attention toall land, and the steeper and rougher hills are very important. There are now fifteenfollowers of this Keyline implement and eventually some of these manufacturers madevery good chisel plows. The result now is that the best of the Australian chiselplows are superior, in my opinion, to those employed in other countries, and Australianshave bought more of the new implements than the farmers overseas.
So our Graham plow has been successful. Following its initialintroduction only a short time elapsed before the sales had reached the million poundsmark. We were satisfied that every farmer and grazier who uses the Graham plow ismore likely to be improving his land than harming it. Still it is only an implement,and the important thing is that it be used according to the techniques that weredeveloped in the Keyline plan. However, since it is an important implement for Keylinewe will continue to offer it on its merits to all farmers and graziers. Next arosea host of problems and we were beseiged for solutions.
First came the problem of supervision. Since many farmers andgraziers are wanting a service that will provide supervision of their work of developingtheir properties on Keyline methods, we are establishing a service on a basis ofthree years' supervision for a fee determined on the size and condition of each property.
Next came the problem of marking out. I believe the most goodcan be achieved if the landman learns by doing things himself. He needs, as one ofhis items of equipment, a satisfactory level, which he or any of his work force canuse without experience. I designed the "Bunyip Level" especially for thefarmers' and graziers' own personal use.
Then there had to be designs. Farmers have been interested inmy dam designs since 1944, when they were first used agriculturally on "Yobarnie",but it is not easy, as they find, to follow the design and methods without properplans and specifications. I have therefore drawn designs and plans for various standardfarm irrigation dams and copyrighted them. They are straightforward and can be understoodand used, in conjunction with instructions that have been prepared, by any farmeror grazier.
And now for lockpipe. One of the very important design featuresof all my dams has been the provision of pipes beneath and through the wall for thesimple and economical distribution of stored water. This type of work, simplicityitself to me, had to be made equally simple for all to handle. There was no suitablydeveloped engineering technique with clear instructions for the layman; moreover,there has never been any manufactured equipment available to farmers for the placingof a pipe line through the wall of a farm dam, although such means of water controlare always included in the design of the big community type dam. So we had to developand present the "lockpipe system" and include every necessary item of equipmentto enable the work to be undertaken by any landman. This system includes heavy steelflanged pipes, the only type of pipe suitable, with baffle plates, gaskets, strainers,valves and take-off mechanisms, together with complete instructions, including suitableillustration.
Next we had to have maps. A Keyline map is a map of a farmingor grazing property drawn to a workable scale with contour lines at a vertical intervalthat suitably illustrates the shape and form of the land. The Keyline map includesthe keylines or guidelines marked in with all valuable water conservation sites,irrigation areas, and special or valuable land forms indicated.
I said earlier that the most difficult, time-consuming and costlyjob in any new agricultural development is the educational part of it. My own earliercontour maps produced by field surveys cost then the equivalent of from ten shillingsto fourteen shillings per acre at today's values. They were slow to produce and tooexpensive for me to recommend them to farmers.
It is simple enough to show farmers the new Keyline agriculturalvalues in his landforms if one can spend the time with the man on his own land, butlack of time is the difficulty. A farm contour map is one of the greatest thoughleast used instruments for land development. But with a suitable Keyline map I coulddiscuss with the farmer the full development of his property in under an hour, andboth of us would know the property and the appropriate Keyline development. I havemaps of this type for all my own properties and can explain them and their uses,but unless a farmer has a map of his own land the first discussion on Keyline mayremain somewhat unreal to him.
We are now approaching a position when we can produce Keylinemaps of the farmer's and grazier's property and will be able to teach those who donot understand them fully how to read and use them. In addition, the provision ofaerial photographs on the same scale as the maps may be a later development of thisparticular service.
Still, maps were not enough. With the assistance of some ofmy academic friends we have succeeded in producing very fine models of farming properties.I believe these models will find their most valuable use in universities, agriculturalcolleges and schools, but I have been very interested to find that many farmers andgraziers, after seeing my models, express the desire for a model of their own property.
In the educational and scientific field Keyline is not withoutrecognition. It has appeared in the examination questions of agricultural collegesand is on the curriculum of at least one college. It was stated to have been theonly subject chosen by more than one student as the subject of an agricultural talkwhich each student had to give as part of the fourth year Agricultural Science Courseat Melbourne University in 1956. Queensland University has maintained a strong interest.Sydney University asked me to be guest of honour and deliver the address at the graduationdinner of the Faculty of Agriculture of Sydney University. Agricultural collegeshave requested a text book on Keyline and thousands of students and their teachersvisit "Nevallan", and many have returned each year. A goodly number ofscientists have expressed a great interest in Keyline. Sir C. Stanton Hicks, Professorof Human Physiology and Pharmacology, Adelaide University, and a founder of the Keyline(Research) Foundation, has said, "After all the gloomy prognostications of thepioneers of soil erosion control--Jakes and Wyte, Bennett and others--it is witha feeling of relief and renewed hope in national development that I see the entryupon the scene of the realistic and practical optimism of Keyline", and, further,"I have seen soil similar to this (on 'Nevallan') before, but it took over twentyyears to make. The big thing with Keyline is that it only took three years".Sir Stanton, after two earlier short visits, spent ten days on "Nevallan"studying and investigating every aspect of my work. An agricultural scientist whohad been engaged for many years in the academic teaching of agriculture, and whois now continuously occupied with the broad advisory field to farmers and graziers,said, "Yeomans has discovered in the Keyline concept itself something of greatimportance that has somehow eluded scientists all these years." The distinguishedchief of a national research organisation said to me after a world trip, "Keylinein Australia is the most interesting development in world agriculture". He hadalso expressed interest and a further measure of approval of my work when he hadearlier visited "Nevallan". Such opinions surely indicate something worthwhile.It must, therefore, be our aim to help in providing facilities for the teaching ofKeyline in these most important institutions--the Universities and Agricultural Colleges--whereversuch assistance is asked of us. For instance, the supply of a series of Keyline maps,aerial photographs and models would be a great aid in students' study of the landforms and shapes for the planning and development of land.
We needed more experiment and demonstration farms. Nothing ismore convincing than the accomplished fact. Immediately the Foundation had made itsdecisions on my firm's function in Keyline I considered the acquisition of new properties,and it became necessary for us to control such ventures, and therefore we had tobuy more land ourselves. But the decision to buy more land was an easy one for me,since many of my activities in recent years have been dictated by my great interestin land and in the development of the Keyline Plan. The whole wonderful consistencyof the land forms that Keyline discloses are there to be discovered on every farmingproperty, and the study and development of land could become much too easily an all-absorbinghobby. Of course, such work always involved considerable financial outlay if thework was to be done properly and also enjoyed. Fundamentally, both the farmer andmyself have to make the work pay. Experimental farms are never expected to pay. Ourfarms must do so, because that is the meaning of development. For us now, happilythe large and more costly experiments are finished. It is just a matter of applyingthe techniques of Keyline planning and development of which we are completely sureand to be varied only against the climate and the land shape of the newer properties.These new farms will be acceptable because they vary widely in land form, climateand soil types. But doubts have been expressed as to the success of Keyline soildevelopment technique if applied to light soil such as poor granitic and then sandstonesoils. Therefore, we bought 1,500 acres of sandstone shelf country at the back ofWedderburn, some few miles from Campbelltown, New South Wales. It appears all sandand sandstone. The land form consists of high flattish shelves, breaking out to sandstonegorges up to six hundred feet deep. The land was cheap and close to Sydney.
For similar reasons, a property, which we have named "Pakby",of 2,000 acres of the lowest-priced granitic country we could find close to a goodtown, was also acquired near Bathurst, New South Wales. Nine miles from Bathurst,on a main bitumen highway, it presents a typical picture of the deteriorated landscapeof the poor granitics with big erosion gullies, with much surface soil removed, andit is an unfavoured property locally.
Then we ventured more ambitiously and bought "Kencarley",which is some seven miles from Orange, New South Wales. This property contains 3,000acres of what was described to us by the Orange folk as "tiger" or "biddy-bush"country--poor country. Biddy-bush covers those parts of the property where the soilhas all been lost by soil erosion, nevertheless biddy-bush does have roots and ismuch better to start with than nothing.
Now on "Kencarley" the land form is the most variedof our properties. There are high slates and schists, all "end-on", asit were, standing nearly upright and rising to 850 feet above the lowest point ofthe property. These metamorphic rocks contain intruded igneous rock formations. Althoughmany kind friends were sympathetic toward us for our bad judgment and misfortunein acquiring the property, I am quite sure that it will not only be a rich, highly-productivearea in the shortest time, but also one of the most beautiful farms.
These new farms, together with "Nevallan" and "Yobarnie"at North Richmond, New South Wales, give us five fair-sized experiment and demonstrationproperties. We intend to develop these farms fully on Keyline planning, and theyshould enable us to give the answer to any query the farmers might bring to us.
There was the question of an earth-moving equipment service,because now the development of the experiment and demonstration farms required theuse of some big mechanical equipment. This became a personal problem, since I haddisposed of all my heavy equipment of the type which would have been suitable andwhich was earlier available for my experimental work on "Yobarnie". Therefore,about this time I acquired the control of a reasonably-sized contracting businessto do our major work and to undertake Keyline earthworks for farmers. It was expectedthat many farmers would be able to use these services, and learn the technique andmethods of dam construction with lockpipe and irrigation and for them to use othercontractors to continue our work. However, we found that very often a farmer wouldcontract the firm for a job of a few days or a week, but having seen the manner ofour work he wanted to have a lot more done. jobs of a few days turned into months,and all our plant became tied up, with a bad effect on our own developments. Whatwe require now is many contractors with good plants, and because we intend to teachfarmers our methods we hope to be able to achieve greater results.
This also must be said--there is no question of our plant competingwith other contractors, because there is so much financial advantage to the farmerin this work that if all available contractors were working with us there would be,in my opinion, more work for the next ten years or so than all of us combined coulddo.
Now the question arose of the insurance of farm dams. I haveinvestigated the insurance of this most valuable asset, the farm irrigation dam,in various countries of the world, and farm dams seemed to be the most unpopulartype of risk from the insurance company's point of view. Only one country was preparedto quote a rate that slightly approached what I consider to be a practical insurancepremium to the farmer. A detailed study of our own registered design farm dams withthe lockpipe system was made from the point of view of the risks involved in insurance.With the increased factors of safety automatically provided in our designs and constructionwe have been able to work out a practical insurance scheme at a low premium, andso it was decided to undertake the insurance of farm irrigation dams. Consequently,a new company is in process of formation for this purpose, so that we are now inthe insurance business and can offer rates of premiums to farmers and graziers forthe insurance of all their dams built to the design of those described in this book.This coverage by our insurance is a practical business proposition to the landmen.
Then, of course, we welcome new business associations. Becausewe need help in our work we will make new alliances with suitable business organisationswho are closely associated with the farmers and graziers. This part of our work hasrecently been commenced, but it will entail the training of staffs before the alliancesbecome effective. We believe that by undertaking the programme of Keyline as a straightforwardbusiness, and that by providing valuable services to agriculture, these allied organisationswill reap a satisfactory business reward.
There is no doubt that the work will be influenced by the attitudeof Government Departments to the Keyline Plan. If the Agricultural, Soil Conservation,or Water Supply Authorities oppose Keyline with outright condemnation, agriculturalbusiness firms who would otherwise be willing to assist would then be very reluctantto participate in our work. Their very business existence can often depend on thecontinued approval of these Government Departments. Agricultural businesses consistentlyaccept or reject new implements and merchandise according to the approval or otherwiseof these authorities.
On the other hand, if Keyline received a measure of endorsementfrom the appropriate State authorities new associations which we could make wouldsoon have a widespread effect.
These various Government Departments have, up to this date,treated me and my work very well. They have gone to a great deal of trouble to organisevisits by their various officers. For instance, the assembling of a large party ofagronomists from widely scattered country districts for a visit of several hoursat "Nevallan" calls for considerable organisation on their part.
There have now been dozens of such group visits to my properties,if one includes those also from universities, agricultural colleges, schools, manyfarmers' organisations, teachers, technical and church college societies, land valuersfrom banks, Lands Department staff surveyors and special touring 'bus parties frominterstate. All have expressed their thanks to me, and I, in turn, appreciate thecompliment to my Keyline work.
While some of the official groups have repeated their visitsit is nearly impossible to obtain a full view of all that is involved in Keylinefrom these visits. Keyline work often impresses visitors according to that aspectmost evident to them at the time of their visit. If the earthworm populations arecasting on the surface, then earthworms and soil are likely to occupy a lot of discussiontime. A visitor may ask the name of the trees in one of our planted tree belts. Asa result, an hour or so later I am discussing, on the soil of the tree area, a fungiwhich someone says he has not seen outside a tropical rain forest. In a group, onewho has been to "Nevallan" before wants to see a certain area he has beendiscussing with his friends in the group. So time passes and we do not see the spillwayof a particular dam someone else wanted to inspect. We may be watering, so the courseof the visit is dictated by the flowing water which everyone wants to follow as itflows slowly along the irrigation drain. It may have been decided that a group whoarrived by special 'bus will visit vantage points by 'bus and at each stop a discussionwill take place. The size of the conveyance may limit the inspection to four spots,but only two are seen. A famous trace-element expert with a group of soil scientistsis anxious to see the paddocks on which I conducted my trace-elements experiments.The scientists see many soil samples, try to reconcile my results with their ownexperiments and experience, but do not see the Keyline land shapes, the pattern ofthe planning, the locations of dams or the reason for the trees.
Some people see Keyline as a Graham plow because I introducedthe chisel plow to Australia, when what I really did was to introduce an implementto play only a part in the whole plan of Keyline. Other folk understand Keyline asa technique and manner of cultivating land to make it hold a lot more rainfall oras a way to clear land that makes land look well; again they may see it as a newway to build nice-looking dams, or a tap to turn water from a dam, but may not seethat the water was there for the purpose of using it to the best advantage. Manyfolk, on their first visit, are amazed to see our large water storages and extensiveirrigation areas and to learn that we have had some of the country's largest farmirrigation dams for fourteen years.
These impressions that miss the complete approach of Keylineare perhaps natural and understandable, but they do suggest that much more than oneor two visits by agricultural authorities may be fully justified. There has beenno instance as yet of any real attempt at a full investigation of Keyline by suchauthorities. But a committee or representative group could be detailed to investigateand study the work to report on Keyline as an effective or otherwise agriculturaldevelopment plan.
It has always been an object of the Keyline (Research) Foundationto subject Keyline to such a test for the purpose of having the whole concept widelyunderstood and then accepted. For my part, I have always been willing to give mytime to such a project. The wide educational and agricultural background of the officersof our Departments of Agriculture ensure that any representative group would be fullycompetent for this task. I would suggest that such an investigation could start bythe members spending one week with me, when a detailed study of the theory and techniqueof Keyline would be made. Chapter by chapter the Keyline publications could be readwith every officer of the investigating Agricultural Committee attacking every smallestdetail he did not understand or with which he did not agree. The films, maps, photographsand land models which I have could be studied and discussed in the same manner. Whenpoints were reached in these discussions where studies of land form or Keyline techniqueon the land itself was necessary we could go to our properties. The committee membersmust learn Keyline to be judges of Keyline, and part of this knowledge would be gainedin performing the various operations themselves. And the members of the committeedo not have to be engineers; it would be as well if they were not, but they mustcertainly be agriculturalists. There is engineering in Keyline, but it is quicklylearned by the layman. The committee could do this part of the work as we suggesta farmer does it. They can follow the methods of location, design and constructionof our farm dams by selecting locations, sketching and dimensioning the plans anddesigns, and then they could supervise the construction of a dam themselves. I canat least arrange this. Inspections could be made of all our dams. Farmers owningorthodox dams would no doubt permit inspections, and discussions would soon disclosethe value of the different approaches. If any member of the committee held the viewthat such "engineering" matters were beyond him he would soon be convincedotherwise.
At this point visits to random farms and grazing propertieswhere no Keyline work had been in progress could be made to enable the committeemembers to check their knowledge of Keyline by summing up the Keyline applicationson each property, and to check its application on any type of property.
If the report of such an Agricultural Committee was completelyfavourable and was immediately acted on, the work of our State agricultural officerswould soon transform the countryside.
I have met most of the agricultural officers of the New SouthWales Department of Agriculture and many outside this State. Many of them are mypersonal friends and not antagonistic in any way to Keyline. They are, moreover,an outstanding body of men. The members of our proposed Agricultural Committee would,by the time they were ready to make their report, constitute a solid core of Keylineknowledge and be fully capable of quickly training all agricultural officers in thisnew facet of their work. The selection of the particular officers for such an investigatingcommittee could logically be influenced by their suitability for the possible laterteaching of the Keyline work. They could be maintained as instructors for some timeat least, though not for the purpose of training farmers but to train all departmentalofficers and other agricultural educators, who in turn would be in contact with farmerson the new work.
The acceptance of this whole proposal for the investigationof Keyline appears to be a relatively easy matter. It would certainly be simple enoughto the stage of the committee's report, and, if this was acceptable of Keyline, tothe further stage of the training of all agricultural officers. Here, however, itmust become a Cabinet matter for the rationalisation of the work of the other twoauthorities--Soil Conservation and Water Supply--who would be concerned.
As already mentioned some purely agricultural matters have beentaken away from agricultural control. Agricultural water conservation on the farmcould quite easily be placed under the control of the proper agricultural authorities.However, the soil conservation authorities, because of the strong agricultural backgroundon which they insist for their officers, would be in a position to supply a verypowerful force of men with an eminently suitable background for training to the newwork. However, this authority has always fought to maintain its complete independenceof Agricultural Department control in this State, and in Victoria the position issimilar. Again, in another instance in Queensland, the Soil Conservation Departmentdoes very excellent work and lives happily under the control of the State Departmentof Agriculture. This in my opinion is the proper method of administration for aslong as soil conservation is considered an important function of agriculture. Whenthe various State Governments do not agree on the province of soil conservation inagriculture it is not much to wonder at that others are also confused.
As far as Keyline is concerned some soil conservation authoritiesalone have appeared to consider Keyline as cutting in on their preserves. Becauseof the fact that they generally may deal only with soil erosion problems and notwater conservation, they suffer, in my opinion, an extreme disadvantage when theyconsider Keyline a rival doctrine to soil conservation. There have been occasionsof mild arguments between Keyline supporters and soil conservation officers, whenthe soil conservationist, feeling the weight of argument a little heavy, has claimedthat he tested Keyline and it didn't work. No doubt a very junior officer. The allegedsecret test of Keyline must have been a major undertaking--if indeed such foolishnesswas ever even contemplated--and as such could only have as its purpose a petty condemningof Keyline. If tests were to be made genuinely of Keyline technique to produce a"right or wrong" verdict I would naturally be invited to participate. Keylinealso has been damned with faint praise, and also included as "just another partof soil conservation". Some Government and educational authorities have borroweddescriptive terms and followed methods from "The Keyline Plan" and usedideas of my own without acknowledgment. It is said that imitation is the sincerestform of flattery, but I am not flattered by imitations that ignore principles orthat copy engineering procedures and ignore vital life concepts. While our objectalways is to have farmers and graziers adopt Keyline on their properties, we do notwish to see some of its applications lose their usefulness and identity by beingaccepted wrongly into general agricultural methods.
We all view Keyline as a complete plan for agricultural landdevelopment based on wide new concepts and principles, and therefore it is the desireof the trustees of the Keyline (Research) Foundation that it should be fully investigatedofficially and accepted or rejected as such.
Any of these departments may condemn, belittle, praise, or ignoreKeyline, but I, as the originator, cannot adopt any other attitude than the courseI follow. I believe it is my right, privilege and proper function to report factuallyon all present agricultural methods (which include the soil conservation approachand the present farm water supply question) with which I am well conversed. I donot think that I should be influenced by the magnitude of any authority or oppositionwhere I believe my experiments and experience discloses faults or misconception inorthodox methods and approaches. However, Keyline is now to be run as a businessand we hope to stay in the business of Keyline until the principle aim of the Keyline(Research) Foundation is achieved.
Personally, my main interests lie in the wide implementationsof the Keyline plan, in continuing with my experiments and in running our own properties.I am interested in Keyline as a business, only as a necessary stage to assist inits wide acceptance as part of official agricultural land development policy in Australia.
Many of the new business aspects of Keyline are protected bypatents, copyrights and registered design and in the meantime these will be protectedas our own. However, any farmer or grazier has permission to use, for his own purposeson his own land, any of the methods and techniques that are covered in this and otherKeyline publications, and he can rest assured that I have thought this thing throughand that I have worked it all out to a successful conclusion on my own properties.As far as I am concerned, the challenge of events of the last few years has beenaccepted.