Australia tackles weed resistance with new “destructor”

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click image to zoomA prototype of the HSD was involved in trials and demonstrations to growers across Australia late last year. Herbicide-resistant weeds have long been a problem in Australia as multiple species have become resistant to several mode of action chemistries. Although Australia’s weed challenges have been much more significant than in the United States, Australia has developed a new method for eliminating weed seed carryover.

The Harrington Weed Seed Destructor (HSD) is an innovative technology designed by a Western Australian grain grower, Ray Harrington. The development of the HSD was funded by The Grains Research and Development Corporation and assisted by the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) and the University of South Australia’s Agricultural Engineering department.  The HSD is towed behind a harvest like a chaff cart.

“I decided that if I could manage weed seed set at harvest, I would have a chance to combat the weed problem and after looking at all the options and logistics, crushing the seed seemed to be the answer,” Harrington said.

The first prototype was built and tested by Harrington in 2006 on his own farm. The first commercial unit is now in the advanced planning stage and a number of improvements have already been made based on feedback received from farmers and researchers who’ve tested it at field trials and demonstration day events.

 The HSD is one-step closer to actualization now that the GRDC recently announced it is awarding the licensing of the HSD technology to de Bruin Engineering.

“With herbicide resistance becoming an increasingly serious and expensive concern for Australian agriculture — technology such as the HSD is a significant step forward in developing a sustainable and integrated approach to weed management,” said Paul Melbusch, GRDC manager of Commercial Farm Technologies.

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