Aussie Weed Crusher Targets American Harvest
Invented in South Australia, the Seed Terminator can be retrofitted to new and used John Deere, CASE IH, Massey Ferguson, Claas and New Holland Class 7, 8, 9 and 10 harvesters and retails for about USD$75,000 (A$110,000).
The machines are being trialled in Washington and Missouri, and in Saskatchewan, Canada.
The Seed Terminator uses two Multi-stage Hammer Mills to pulverise weed seeds, spreading the sawdust-like debris behind the header. Tests by the University of Adelaide’s Weed Science Research Group have shown a 96 to 100 per cent kill of rye grass seeds using the machine.
It is the fourth year of production for the Seed Terminator following the release of nine pilot units in 2016, a further 23 in 2017 and 50 last year, which have resulted in 121 full field trials on a range of crop types in major grain growing regions in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
One machine was also trialled near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan last year.
The Seed Terminator is being trialled on soybean crops in Missouri.
The “one-pass solution” spreads the nutrient-rich pulverised weed seed debris 10 to 13.6 metres (11 to 15 yards) behind the harvester to act as a fine mulch for improved soil health. It also reduces the need for herbicides and labour intensive burn-offs to keep weeds at bay after harvest. Testing has been focused on rye grass seeds because of their miniscule size and the fact they are notoriously difficult to kill.
Inventor and Kangaroo Island farmer Dr Nick Berry founded the company with his uncle Mark Ashenden.
Ashenden said the product, which has undergone design improvements after every season so far, was ready for full commercial production.
He said the Seed Terminator had already proven to be effective in Canadian conditions last year.
This year’s Canadian machine is the second unit to go to Josh Lade, Dr Berry’s cousin and farmer in Saskatoon, they will be doing side by side trials with their four headers, two with terminators and two without.
The Missouri trials are being assessed by Kevin Bradley from University of Missouri Mizzou Weed Science (left) in and are being done in conjunction with Crown Power & Equipment Co.
“We want to be able to further prove that the Seed Terminator works in their conditions again this season with a view to having a limited commercial release next year,” Ashenden said.
“There’s a lot of interest from the Canadian Government as they are concerned about the environmental impacts of agriculture and also a couple of research universities over there.”
In Missouri, a Seed Terminator unit has been fitted by Crown Power & Equipment Co to a CASE IH combine harvester to be used this month during the soybean harvest. The results will be assessed by University of Missouri Mizzou Weed Science.
In Washington, a Seed Terminator has been fitted to Greg Maders’ John Deere s690 with a Hillco kit for the undulating terrain in conjunction with Trevor Zueger from Pape Machinery. The trial has generated interest from Washington State University researchers.
A fourth machine was sent to Europe for testing earlier this year and has recently completed the harvest.
The Washington trial is generating interest from (left to right) Will Mann (Mader Enterprises), Henry Wetzel (Washington State University Research Associate) and Drew Lyon (Washington State University Professor Endowed Chair Small Grains Extension and Research, Weed Science.
The Adelaide-based company has just manufactured its 100th machine ahead of this year’s Australian grain harvest, which begins in October.
Ashenden said the latest round of upgrades for the 2019 model included further enhancements to improve wear and reduce power draw and the addition of magnets to intercept stray metal before it enters the Seed Terminator unit.
“We think this year is our first true commercial release after three years of trials with a growing number of partners,” he said.
“We’re designing a scalable manufacturing plan for 100 units this year that will allow us to grow rapidly.”
Progressive Farmer – November 2016
In-combine seed crusher is a smashing success in early research.
This machine grinds weed seeds into oblivion at harvest and is being studied by U.S. weed scientists.
(Progressive Farmer image by University of Illinois)
Many a farmer has been tempted to take a hammer or any other punishing device to physically beat back Palmer amaranth. Now, there’s a way to flip a switch on your combine and grind that noxious weed seed to oblivion.
An innovation called the Integrated Harrington Seed Destructor is already pulverizing away in Australia, where farmers are battling herbicide-resistant ryegrass, radish and other weeds in wheat. The Destructor is now part of a U.S. study on the efficacy of harvest weed seed control practices being conducted by scientists in 15 states. So far, it looks to be a smashing success.
“In stationary testing over the winter, we had very high efficacy with the Destructor on the species we tried,” says Adam Davis, research ecologist with USDA Agricultural Research Service, based at the University of Illinois. “On all seven weed species we looked at, we’ve had greater than 98% destruction of the seeds.”
The original Destructor was developed as a pull-behind device. U.S. researchers connected a tow-behind Destructor to a PTO drive from a tractor to simulate the speed of a combine and fed weed seed into the machine.
DESIGN REFINEMENTS. The second-generation design takes the unit inside the combine. The chaff stream from the combine is diverted into a cage mill turning at 1,500 rpms. Weed seeds are reduced to dust and are blown out the back of the combine. Research indicates the chaff stream typically contains a high percentage of weed seed produced by the field.
Davis found the Destructor is most effective on smaller seeds. “For example, with common waterhemp, which, like Palmer amaranth, has a small seed, we’ve had close to 99.9% efficacy. I haven’t seen any waterhemp seed survive.”
University of Arkansas weed scientist Jason Norsworthy plans to combine the planting of cover crops with harvest weed seed control tactics this year.
“If a cover crop is reducing emergence of weeds by 70 to 80%, and you’re destroying 99% of the seed that comes through the combine, you put those two together, and you’re taking a tremendous amount of selection pressure off herbicides,” Norsworthy says.
“If it becomes a national practice, you could get a 10-year to 20-year extension of shelf life of herbicide products, which benefits both producers and the technology companies developing them,” he explains.
NO SILVER BULLET. Like any weed-management tactic, weed seed control tactics need to be used before things turn into a total train wreck, Davis adds. “I don’t think you’d be able to salvage a field that’s become unplantable due to weed infestation. But, I think it could help a field from becoming unplantable,” he says.
The original tow-behind version of the Harrington Seed Destructor, invented by western Australia farmer Ray Harrington, costs around $200,000. The reconfigured, combine-integrated version built by the South Australian company de Bruin Engineering, is expected to cost much less, Norsworthy says.