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Innovations: Ridley stripper

In the 1840s the harvesting of crops was a labour intensive task. The shortage of labour in South Australia led to the invention of a stripper harvester that mechanised the reaping of wheat by flour miller, John Ridley, in 1843. The Ridley Stripper won an Agricultural and Horticultural Society prize the following year. Ridley's machine consisted of a comb that lifted the wheat heads which were then removed by the rotating beaters which sat behind the comb. The heads went directly into a storage box at the back of the machine and the grain and chaff were separated later. The Ridley stripper saved farmers the labourious task of harvesting the wheat by hand. The stripper was horse-drawn, so allowed quicker and more efficient harvesting.There was a lengthy debate about the invention of the stripper harvester a farmer, John Wrathall Bull, claimed that he had invented the stripper. Bull is said to have exhibited his stripper in a contest for the best wheat harvesting machine in September 1843 and Ridley did not demonstrate his machine until a month or two later. Despite Bull's claims, Ridley is generally credited with inventing the first stripper harvester and his name is commemorated in South Australia a scholarship at Roseworthy Agricultural College, a state electoral area and gates at the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society's showgrounds in Adelaide.

John Ridley
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Ridley reaping machine
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