Inventor honoured by Hall of Fame award

ALL SMILES: Ray Harrington with friends, family and WA Governor Kim Beazley (back, right) being inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 14. Photo: Supplied
ALL SMILES: Ray Harrington with friends, family and WA Governor Kim Beazley (back, right) being inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 14. Photo: Supplied

A pioneering agricultural inventor, whose machines are in day-to-day use across Australia, has been awarded one of West Australian farming's highest honours, being inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Seventy-two-year-old Ray Harrington, of Darkan, is probably Australia's most prolific and versatile inventor of farm machinery, almost all of which is in day-to-day use across the country.

Over five decades, he 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 WA and Australian agriculture.

As a practising 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 the inventions which have made a big impact on West 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 said.

"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 had a 'have-a-go' attitude to life and that his mother had an innovative spirit.

Between them, they inspired 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 he has encountered in his work, and a small amount of luck.

Ray was unveiled as the Agricultural Hall of Fame's latest member at a ceremony held by the Royal Agricultural Society of WA (RASWA).

The organisation, which co-ordinates the yearly event from its Claremont Showground site, has inducted 63 people before 2019, with each member being nominated and then approved by a committee drawn from some of WA agriculture's leading lights.

This year's ceremony, attended by the WA Governor Kim Beazley, was followed by the yearly tradition of unveiling the portraits of the previous inductees, which will hang in the historic hall of fame building at the showground. For more info about the Agricultural Hall of Fame, visit