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Seeder sows memories for Westhaven resident Roy

An elderly gentleman stands in front of a paddock where a seeder can be seen in the background

For Westhaven Retirement Village resident Roy, a community bus trip ended up being a trip down memory lane when he spotted part of his family history in a paddock outside Toowoomba.

Roy says seeing the 1956 air seeder invented by his father, Albert, triggered happy memories. This important piece of farming equipment later developed into a huge part of Roy’s family - and Toowoomba agricultural - history.  

“My father Albert was a very practical man. When he was young in the 1900’s, he got a job setting up new farm machinery - Strippers, Binders etc. and from then he always worked in the farming industry,” Roy said.

In 1946, Albert Fuss founded the Fuss Brothers together with his four sons. The family operated farms in the southeast of South Australia and at Dalby in Queensland. In 1953, searching for sunshine in their retirement years, Albert and his wife Iris, moved to the farm in Dalby.

It was the wet year in 1956 that inspired Albert’s greatest invention.

“The wet weather created many problems getting the crop planted with the technology that was available at the time, a conventional combine seed drill,” Roy explained.

“So he decided he would endeavour to design and make a seeder that could be mounted onto a chisel plough, or similar, to give much more trash clearance.”

The first ‘Air Seeder’ proved successful and over the following 12 months several units were made and sold. The ‘Gyral Platform Seeder’ followed, and the rest is history.

“In December 1957 we formed the company Gyral Implements Pty Ltd and built a factory in Dalby. In 1960 we designed our own range of tillage equipment to mount the seeder on to create a complete Gyral unit,” Roy said.

“We also designed our own four-row conventional combine, which we later modified to a six-row combine, known as the TX Combine Planter. We successfully sold thousands of these machines.”

When Albert passed away in 1963, his sons decided to carry on the Gyral business full time.

“In 1972, with the increase in tractor horsepower, farmers were looking for wider machinery to suit,” Roy said.

“So we developed an Independent Seed Cart (Seed and Fertilizer) with the bins being pressurised, which allowed the material to be delivered into the air stream and blown greater distances. Sales increased and we had to look at expanding into a new factory.

“We purchased a 10-acre site in Toowoomba and built a new factory to enable us to meet demand. We moved the whole operation to Toowoomba in October 1977 and brought 12 of our top employees with us.”

The company enjoyed great success, even expanding to manufacture and sell the seeder in the United States.  

As the only surviving member of the five original Directors, Roy recently turned 94. The Fuss family business operated for 58 years, employing over 60 people at the height of production, until it was sold in 2014 to Great Western Tillage of Toowoomba, where the seeders are still made today.

Roy attributes the success of the business to the family always treating their staff the way they themselves would like to be treated.

It was this philosophy and love of family that first brought Roy and his wife to the Westhaven Retirement Village, over 10 years ago. The pair joined Roy’s brother Jarvis and his wife, and at the time, Jarvis’ daughter Helen – who was the Village Manager! After losing his wife eight years ago, and his brother in 2022, Roy says he enjoys the fellowship that the community has to offer.

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