Robert Dickie Watt

Biography of Robert Dickie Watt

Robert Dickie Watt was born on in Kilmaurs, Ayrshire, in 1881, the second child of John Watt, a farmer, and Agnes Taylor (nee Dickie).

After his education at Kilmarnock Academy, Watt enrolled at the University of Glasgow in 1900, studying in both the college of Arts and Science. In 1903 he gained his MA. In 1905, he earned a BSc in Agriculture. While studying he was also awarded the National Diploma in Agriculture and National Diploma in Dairying at the West Scotland Agricultural College. He earned 1st class honours and 1st place in the UK in the NDA, with gold medal awarded jointly by the Royal Agricultural Society of England and the Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland.

A Carnegie Research Scholarship led him to Rothamsted Experiment Station in 1905, but shortly afterwards he was appointed Agricultural Chemist in the Department of Agriculture, Transvaal, South Africa.

In 1910 he was appointed foundation Professor of Agriculture at the University of Sydney, Australia. As the department grew into a School, and then Faculty of Agriculture, he was appointed Dean and remained in this position until his retirement. The RD Watt Building there is named after him. While at Sydney, he worked towards the control and eradication of plant pest Prickly Pear, and of Bunchy Top Disease (in bananas), both devastating to the eastern Australian agricultural lands, production and economy.

Upon his retirement in 1946 he was conferred Emeritus Professor by the University of Sydney, and was later awarded the Farrer Memorial Medal for distinguished service to agriculture in Australia.

He published his experience and expertise in The Romance of the Australian Land Industries. In 1960, he was awarded a knighthood in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Agricultural Science in Australia.

Sir Robert Dickie Watt died in 1965 in Sydney.

For more information on his contribution to Australian agriculture, see his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography


Robert Dickie Watt
Born 23 April 1881.
Died 10 April 1965.
University Link: Graduate
GU Degrees: MA, 1903; BSc, 1905;
Occupation categories: agriculturalists; professors
Additional Information: R3/1/1 (vol 2)
Record last updated: 4th Sep 2019

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