The research station was established in 1913 on an original area of 545 ha as a demonstration farm and to assess the cropping potential of the region. This initial work gave such encouraging results that it became an experiment farm after World War I and wheat breeding was pursued. Additional farms belonging to the Duffy and Bourke families were bought in the 1940’s so that, by 1949, the Research Station tripled in size to 1742 ha. This enabled the activities of the Department to broaden to include sheep and pasture research as well as cereal growing.
The facilities on the station were significantly upgraded in 1971 with the opening of the present office, laboratory and conference complex, designed to accommodate 27 professional and support staff.
Important early findings
Some of the more important findings from early research conducted at Condobolin include:
- Farming systems – a major series of fertiliser experiments defined the importance of phosphorus and nitrogen for cereal and pasture production in the central west, resulting in current recommendations.
- Fertiliser placement – it was clearly shown that in low rainfall areas the response to superphosphate could be substantially increased by incorporating the fertiliser into the topsoil compared with surface application.
- Pasture improvement – suitable pasture varieties were selected and establishment techniques developed for the productive use of annual medics and lucerne in western wheat belt areas.
- Goats – major contributions were made to both the milking and non-milk goat industries during two periods of work. Recent genetic improvement has resulted in large gains in meat and fibre production and in higher skin quality.
- Sheep nutrition – the increased reproductive performance and wool production from grazing lucerne and medic pastures compared to native species has been quantified.