Progressive farmer and free-thinker dies aged 92

This is a re-post from an article by Jamie Brown in The Land, 20 Feb, 2024

Allan Yeomans in the shop where the Keyline Plow is made. Energetic to the end, Mr Yeomans continued to work, think and play until his dying days. Photo courtesy the Yeomans family.

Carbon farming advocate and free-thinking inventor Allan Yeomans died last Thursday aged 92.

Mr Yeomans grew up on his family’s farm at North Richmond, visible from The Land’s long-held print headquarters, where his father P.A. Yeomans trialled his landscape re-hydration techniques, called the keyline system and where he used his own dip-rip claypan cracker, the now legendary Yeomans chisel plough.

The elder Yeoman instilled a great love for life in Allan who lived his life like his father’s – full of enthusiasm for thinking outside of the box.

In his 20s he and a school friend manufactured and marketed their own “banana chair” which became a household item throughout Australia during the decades of flower power.

Moving to Queensland’s Gold Coast the younger Yeoman took with him his father’s plough-making enterprise and continued to progress sustainable agriculture both practically and theoretically.

An understanding believer in climate change and anxious to manage it through soil carbon sequestration, he presented a paper on the subject in the US in 1989.

Since that time Mr Yeomans directed a passion for reversing increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by drawing them down onto farmland.

He also argued divisively in favour of nuclear power generation to remove the world’s dependence on fossilised carbon fuel, arguing that photosynthesis and geothermal heat were both products of nuclear fusion and fission.

Mr Yeomans understood the dynamics that involve water, plants and soil and encouraged farmers to rehydrate their farms in order to grow more vegetation and thereby fix soil carbon.

To assist with this process he invented his “carbon still” which trialled at Monash University in 2019. The basic premise of the machine was that it analysed soil samples by pressing them through a 2mm square screen. Any material that passed through those small apertures was classified as humus. From that measurement a soil carbon figure could be established.

A consummate creative Mr Yeoman worked, invented and wrote actively right up to his last weeks.

Mr Yeomans also developed a form of do-it-yourself psychoanalysis and wrote about this in his book Locution Therapy.

Able in body as well as mind he remained an active aviation enthusiast, flying his Cessna 180 and Robinson 44 Helicopter wherever he needed to go.

At the ripe old age of 86 he competed in the Queensland State Aerobatics Competition which made him the oldest aerobatic competition pilot in the world at that time. His wife Chris has applied to the Guiness Book of Records to publish that fact.

A celebration of his life will be held at the Southport, Qld, Flying Club next Saturday.

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