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1985 C.M. Donald Medalist - Frank Clements Crofts

Arising from decisions reached at the 2nd Australian Agronomy Conference in 1982, and in accordance with the By-Laws of the Society now approved, the C.M. Donald Medal was awarded to an eminent Australian Agriculturalist at the 3rd Australian Agronomy Conference in Hobart.

For the 1985 award, the Management Committee functioned as an Awarding Committee and had the difficult task of selecting the Medalist from a very strong field of candidates nominated by members of the Society. The candidate finally selected by unanimous vote was Frank Clements Crofts, in recognition of his valuable contribution, sustained for more than 30 years, to the science and practice of agronomy, particularly in the area of pastures and forage crops for animal production.

Frank Crofts holds the formal qualifications of B.Sc.Agr. with 1st Class Honours from the Diversity of Sydney, and Master of Science from Oregon State Diversity, and, since 1951, has had a distinguished career in agriculture in both the academic and practical spheres.

In his early work as a research agronomist with the N.S.W. Department of Agriculture (1951-54), he developed the concept and practice of sodseeding legumes into pasture as a means of greatly increasing the production of grass dominant pastures on the Far North Coast of New South Wales.

In 1954 he was appointed Lecturer in Agronomy at the Diversity of Sydney and, after five years of intensive field research in association with Professor Hector Geddes, he was able to demonstrate that a total programme of water harvesting and planned pasture production could stabilize high productivity pasture output in erratic rainfall areas, and could reduce feed costs in whole milk production by up to 75%.

From 1962 to 1966 he successfully developed a programme aimed at increasing winter forage and prime lamb production by growing dryland oats at high density with nitrogen fertiliser. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Agronomy and Acting Head of the Department of Agronomy at the Diversity of Sydney, and from 1966 to 1973 he ran an active research programme into planned pasture production and utilisation, and the use of irrigation to control pasture production. During that time he became internationally recognised and was involved as a consultant in projects at the Diversity of Reading, U.K., in Oregon State, D.S.A., in Iran, and in New Zealand.

Following the retirement of Professor Geddes in 1973 he was appointed Associate Professor of Agriculture and Director of University Farms. While pursuing an active research programme on "Planned Pasture Production and Utilisation" and supervising the work of final year and postgraduate students, he was also responsible for administration, development and management of ten Diversity Farms having an annual turnover of more than $1.5 million.

In 1979 he began development of Sydney Diversity's Arthursleigh property of 5,500 ha at Goulburn, increasing its carrying capacity from 12,000 sheep initially to 32,000 in 1985.

He retired from the University of Sydney in 1982, and now farms, with his wife, a 900ha hill farm near Bathurst and consults with the University of Sydney on its farming and grazing properties at Moree and Goulburn.

Colin Malcolm Donald

It is with great regret and a deep sense of loss that we record the death of Emeritus Professor C.M. Donald on 13 March 1985 at the end of his 75th year.

Colin Donald came to Australia in 1926 and studied initially at Hawkesbury Agricultural College. After obtaining the Diploma of Agriculture with First Class Honours from Hawkesbury, he proceeded to the University of Sydney where he graduated B.Sc.Agr. in 1933, again with First Class Honours and several prizes.

He joined the staff of the C.S.I.R. in 1934 and was based at the Waite Institute in Adelaide for five years, working on mineral deficiencies of pastures. He was then awarded the two-year Pawlett Scholarship of the University of Sydney which enabled him to study in Britain, the United States and New Zealand. The final few months were spent at the University of Sydney where he delivered the lectures which were published subsequently as the remarkable little textbook, "Pastures and Pasture Research". Returning to the C.S.I.R.O., he was stationed in Canberra with the Division of Plant Industry, later becoming Assistant Chief of the Division. In 1954 he was appointed to the University of Adelaide as the Waite Professor of Agriculture and Head of the Department of Agronomy at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute. He retired in 1973, but continued to work as an Honorary Research Associate of the University for almost another decade.

During his career Professor Donald was a prolific author of papers on various aspects of pasture and crop growth. His intense interest in plant competition resulted in international recognition of his work in this field and led to the development of his concept of the plant "videotape". This word is now commonly used by plant breeders and agronomists to denote a plant with characteristics which, on theoretical principles, should be the most suitable for the particular environment. Under his leadership, with his great conceptual ability and clarity of mind, a research group of world standing developed at the Waite Institute.

Professor Donald's standing in his profession is indicated by the honors that were conferred on him during his career. He obtained a D.Sc.Agr. from the University of Sydney in 1963 and was a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and the Australian Academy of Science. He received the Australian Medal of Agricultural Science in 1964 for his studies on Plant Competition and the Farrer Memorial Medal in 1965 for his contributions to Australian Agricultural Science. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the C.S.I.R.O., and was made a C.B.E. in 1979. As well as being active in many national and international research programmes, he took part in a number of advisory missions to overseas countries for various purposes, a tribute not only to his expertise but also to his dedication and genuine interest in agriculture, education and the welfare of people,

It is indeed fitting that the Australian Society of Agronomy, in recognition of the outstanding contribution of this eminent Agronomist to both scientific endeavour and Australian agriculture, and the profound effect he has had, directly or indirectly, on many agronomists in Australia, should have resolved to award a silver medal at each National Conference to be known as the C.M. Donald Medal.

Colin Malcolm Donald

The C.M. Donald Medal

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