The University of Western Australia has partnered with a WA-based manufacturing company to commercialise an award-winning mechanical weed chipper that serves as a ground-breaking alternative to the use of herbicides for weed management in large scale cropping operations.
The weed chipper, designed by agricultural engineers and researchers from UWA and The University of Sydney, uses specifically designed rapid response ‘tynes’, which behave like mechanical hoes, coupled with commercially available sensing technology to detect and chip out weeds.
Dr Andrew Guzzomi and Dr Carlo Peressini from UWA’s School of Engineering worked closely with David Nowland Hydraulics to design the mechanical system that will now be commercialised and offered to Australian farmers by Precision Agronomics Australia.
The University of Sydney led the weed control testing in partnership with researchers from The University of Queensland and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
According to UWA’s inaugural agricultural engineer, Dr Guzzomi, commercialisation of the research is a significant development for Australian grain growers and the grains industry in general, as it allows for a reduced reliance on herbicides.
“As a UWA engineering graduate, it is exciting to be part of research and development that translates into commercial outcomes that can be adopted quickly by Australian grain growers while also supporting the local manufacturing industry,” Dr Guzzomi said.
Dr Michael Walsh, Director of Weed Research at The University of Sydney, said the initial concept was conceived during a visit to the northern grain growing region of NSW and Queensland in 2012 while he was working at UWA, with West Australian growers Ray Harrington, Andrew Messina and Lance Turner.
“Progressing this research through a multidisciplinary partnership has allowed us to develop an alternative to herbicidal weed control, which is a growing problem in Australia’s agricultural sector,” Dr Walsh said.
“This is the first example of a mechanical approach to site-specific weed control in Australian grain production systems.”
The project received funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation and was created in response to the growing concerns about herbicide resistance and the associated difficulties with fallow weed control.
Matthew Roesner, the Director of Precision Agronomics Australia, said his company was excited about the opportunity to work with UWA to offer cutting-edge technology to the industry and continue to advance agricultural research and development in Australia.
“This is a great project for us to be involved in, as we are committed to making grain production systems more efficient and profitable for Australian farmers,” Mr Roesner said.
Dr Andrew Guzzomi (UWA School of Engineering) 08 6488 3883
Nicholas Smith (UWA Media Officer) 08 6488 1888 / 0411 644 492