Harvest time is a perfect opportunity to collect and destroy weed seeds. Field trials have demonstrated that between 73% and 99% of the weed seed produced during a growing season goes through the harvester and so can be processed through the Harrington Seed Destructor’s industrial-grade mill. This process kills at least 95% of the weed seed present.
The Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD) has been thoroughly tested in grain crops across Western Australia, and the machine’s inventor, Ray Harrington, believes it has application in many situations across Australia.
“Growers in Western Australia have been forced to develop harvest weed seed management techniques over the last 30 years,” says Ray. “Over-reliance on herbicide has allowed resistance to develop and growers need to use other control strategies as well.”
Ray uses two Class 7 harvesters with tow behind HSD machines in his own business and has covered about 12 000 ha in the last three years with minimal wear and tear on the HSDs.
Does the Harrington Seed Destructor have application in all cropping zones?
Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: The HSD was used in trials at 20–30 sites across SA, Victoria and NSW, and worked just like it does in WA. The machine is designed to trail the harvester and process the chaff component, including weed seeds and residual crop seed that can become a weed in the following crop. It is designed for use in crops that are harvested low to the ground, such as barley, wheat, chickpea and the like. A slightly different system may be needed for the HSD to be effective in taller summer crops such as sunflower and sorghum in the north, but the principle remains, if you can get the weed seed into the HSD, they will be destroyed. The technology could also be applied to horticultural and grazing settings.
Does harvest weed seed control using the HSD rely on any special crop preparation or after-harvest operations such as burning?
Short answer: No.
Longer answer: The HSD method of control is 100% mechanical. If a weed seed passes through the mill it will be crushed and rendered unviable.
What is the cost:benefit of using the HSD to manage harvest weed seed?
Short answer: Similar to other harvest weed management options.
Longer answer: Cutting lower to the ground to make sure the majority of weed seed heads are processed slows harvest rates slightly and increases fuel usage. Other harvest weed seed control options such as windrow burning and using a chaff cart have similar costs associated with them. Harvest weed seed management is now an essential part of crop production and the cost of not controlling herbicide resistant weeds is huge.
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