A weapon invented by a Darkan farmer to smash and destroy weed seeds is nearing commercial production after further development by the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) at The University of Western Australia.
AHRI Research Associate Professor Michael Walsh said the Harrington Seed Destructor had been trialled and demonstrated during last year's harvest in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales after extensive WA testing. Eastern States trial sites will be revisited in March-April when season-opening rains stimulate weed germination.
Inventor and farmer Ray Harrington, who has collaborated with the former WA Herbicide Resistance Initiative since 2005, said - like most farmers - weeds were his single-biggest problem. Ryegrass and wild radish, which had evolved resistance to several herbicides, were particularly hard to control.
The destructor, based on mining technology, is towed behind a header at harvest. The header separates the chaff fraction containing weed seeds from the straw and fed into a cage mill. This pulverises any weed seeds in the chaff and returns it to the paddock. In studies using dyed seed, up to 95 per cent of ryegrass seed was destroyed.
Some farmers spend up to $450,000 annually on herbicides that must be applied twice a year. The destructor also alleviates the need for burning chaff dumps, narrow windrows or whole paddocks.
Dr Walsh said the destructor was not a silver bullet to manage weeds but was another string in the weed management bow and enthusiastically received by growers at trials and demonstrations.
Trials of the destructor are funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
Research Associate Professor Michael Walsh (UWA School of Plant Biology) (+61 8) 6488 7872
Ray Harrington (Darkan inventor) (+ 61 4 ) 27 363 004
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783