Australian farmer’s weed-destroying invention draws world interest
An Australian farmer’s invention, which destroys weed seeds during harvest, has the potential to reduce the need for herbicides in grain farming and is gaining interest from around the world.
The Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD) is the brainchild of Western Australian farmer Ray Harrington.
The machine can be retro-fitted into modern grain harvesters and, with cage mill technology adapted from the mining industry, pulverises weed seeds to the point where they are no longer viable.
This means that when the chaff is spread back over the paddocks after harvest, viable weed seeds are not spread in the process.
Extensive research through the University of Western Australia has shown the machine kills 95 per cent of the weed seeds collected in the chaff.
According to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), weeds cost Australian grain farmers around $3.5 billion a year, and there is an increasing problem with weeds such as annual ryegrass that have built up a resistance to commonly used herbicides.
“Five to seven years ago, particularly in places like the Western Australian Wheatbelt, there was quite a strong feeling that herbicide resistance was going to cause people to have to walk off their farms,” said GRDC managing director Steve Jefferies.