Seed destructor set for test debut in the south this harvest

The grain industry’s latest weapon in weed control, the Harrington Seed Destructor, is about to be evaluated in south-eastern Australia.GRAIN growers throughout Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales are about get their first glimpse of the Harrington Seed Destructor in action on their own turf.

The grain industry’s latest weapon in weed control, the HSD is to be evaluated in south-eastern Australia during November and December.

The HSD has been developed by Western Australian grower and inventor Ray Harrington, with assistance from the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (previously the Western Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative), the University of South Australia and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Towed behind a harvester like a chaff cart, the HSD has been designed around a cage mill crushing unit originally developed for use in the mining industry.

The unit, complete with its own power supply, incorporates chaff and straw delivery systems. During harvest, chaff collected from the top sieves of the harvester is delivered into the cage mill where it is processed sufficiently to destroy weed seeds present.

GRDC New Farm Products and Services program manager, Paul Meibusch, says the upcoming HSD trials in south-eastern Australia will give grain growers and advisers the opportunity to observe and learn more about the machine’s potential use and impact.

Speaking at recent GRDC research Updates in the southern cropping region, Mr Meibusch said it was hoped that the HSD would become commercially available in 2012, following completion of trials of the latest prototype and any required refinements. The GRDC is managing the commercial development of the HSD.

The trials over the next couple of months are being conducted as part of a new Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) funded project focussing on harvest weed seed management systems and follow the release of results from trials conducted in WA.

These results confirmed the efficacy of the unit in reducing annual ryegrass emergence, paving the way for its introduction into Australian farming systems.

Those involved in development of the HSD stress that it is not a “silver bullet in weed management” but is in fact one more string in the bow of overall integrated weed management.

Based at the University of WA, AHRI researcher Dr Michael Walsh said avoiding herbicide resistance through targeting weed seed production was critical, as was the overall need to manage herbicide resistance in annual ryegrass.

Dr Walsh said the frequency and distribution of herbicide resistant weed populations continued to escalate across all Australian dryland grain production regions, coinciding with the adoption of conservation cropping systems heavily reliant on selective herbicidal weed control.

He said results from 2010 AHRI harvest trials across 12 locations in the WA grainbelt had shown that the HSD was equally as effective as two other harvest weed seed management systems – chaff carts and windrow burning – in reducing ryegrass emergence.

“But unlike chaff carts and windrow burning systems, the HSD has the advantage of conserving all crop residues and does not require any post-harvest management activities,” Dr Walsh said.

Dr Walsh said that while the trials focussed on ryegrass because it was the most problematic weed in Australian cropping, the HSD was also equally effective in controlling other weed seeds including wild radish, wild oat and brome grass.

The trials in south-eastern Australia, from November 21 to December 24, will be conducted in the following locations:

SA – Minnipa, Cummins, Bute, Maitland, Yorketown, Hart, Mintaro, Pinnaroo

Victoria – Underbool, Dimboola, Skipton, Dookie

NSW – Buraja, Balldale, Temora, Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Nyngan

In the meantime, growers wanting to see the HSD in action can do so by logging on to Rural Press’s farmonline service which features a GRDC Over The Fence interview with inventor Ray Harrington. Click here

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