Frost in Grain Crops and the MEA 'why'


Sometimes I get called up to talk to farmers and scientists about odd topics, such as frost in grain crops.

Now, I don’t actually know too much about the effects of frost on wheat, barley and oats, though I know that such frosts can be hugely damaging to farm income.

What I do know about is the MEA ‘why?’

Clever companies have a deep and fundamental understanding beyond ‘what’ they do and ‘how’ they do it, arriving after deep contemplation as to ‘why’ they do what they do.

At MEA, it’s simple. I wanted to be a farmer, but was born into a landless engineering family based in the city.

So the nearest I can get to farmers is to be the bloke who builds their measurement tools. This gives me contact with the Australian Bush, even if I do spend my days in an office.

Therefore, when I get asked to talk about frost in grain crops, I tell the tale of how I had two chances to become a farmer, and how neither panned out.

My mother’s family fled the Irish potato famine in 1849 and settled in Mintaro in South Australia’s mid-north to grow wheat and barley; they were ‘frosted off’ the land about four generations ago, thus ending my first chance to inherit some acreage.

My father’s family – English and Irish – had a lock-grip on the food chain in the Western Australian wheat-belt town of Meriden between the first and second world wars. My grandfather was the town butcher, my grandmother owned the fruit and veggie shop, and my uncle was the town baker. Did this win the family any acres? Nope – Dad apprenticed himself to the local garage and chance #2 to be a farmer crashed and burned, leaving me to continue the engineering line instead.

So, my grain-growing stories are peripheral to my audience at best, but make a good yarn that explains well enough why MEA does what MEA does – measurements in the bush.

Frost in grain crops
Frost in grain.


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