DARKAN farmer and machinery innovator Ray Harrington was delighted to be chosen to officially open the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days last week.
He said he was the first farmer to do so in its 55-year history and hoped that he wouldn't be the last.
Mr Harrington was introduced by Dowerin Field Days Ccmmittee chairwoman Nadine McMorran who said he had been "instrumental in the invention of the crutching craddle, jetting race and Harrington seed destructor".
She described him as "a major contributor and advocate to practice change in the WA cropping system, moving away from a conventional system which has seen enormous environmental and economic benefit to farmers".
Mr Harrington was recently awarded Farming Legend of the Year.
"One of the 3800 left in WA growing grain," Mr Harrington said.
Ms McMorran said his connection to the field days went "back to the 1970s when he was enrolled in the dairy and inventors sections of the field days".
"It is truly an honour to open the Dowerin Field Days," Mr Harrington said.
He said he would "take a little bit of license because I've just put my 56th crop in" and discussed the changes over the past 55 years.
"It's 55 years of change that we will never ever see again," he said.
"The rapid rate of change in that 55 years was a hell of a curve.
"We'll see a bit of autonomy and technology across the top but we won't see that change again."
Mr Harrington discussed how tractors, seeders, hearders and sprayers had all evolved from small units in that time to massive machines on display at the field days today.
"The tractor has gone from 60 horsepower to 600hp - we'll not see that change again," he said.
"Then we look at the seeder.
"My first seeder was 8 foot.
"I think there's an 80 footer there today.
"The Dowerin Field Days have been able to showcase over the 55 years - annually bringing farmers along to look at what is going on.
"But importantly farmers were feeding back to manufacturers what they wanted.
"It is all fine and well to build something but if farmers don't want it, it's not sellable, so they were accepting the feedback all the way along."
The 72-year-old said his first job was driving a Sunshine header - which had since evolved into a self-propelled version seen today.
"We use to grow 100 tonne - 150t to a man back in 1964-65," he said.
"We are now growing 2000t per man unit - that's why we are still in the game."
Mr Harrington said there was no such thing as a boomsprayer in 1964.
"I think WA can be proud of setting the standard of boomsprayer manufacture - probably in Australia and maybe overseas," Mr Harrington said.
"They have come from 40ft - a huge boomspray - suddenly now we are looking at a 40 metre one.
"That is the change that we have seen through this period.
"If we hadn't had that change one wonders whether our industry would be viable.
"I seriously doubt it in the real sense that we would be viable if we hadn't seen this rapid change over the 55 years."
Mr Harrington said over the years he had "enjoyed the field days, enjoyed the change, and as a manufacturer enjoyed the feedback you get from the clients".
"This has truly been a wonderful 55 years," he said.