Seed Destructor tackles weed toll

Countryman
McIntosh’s Johnny Inferrera and David Thorne with York grower Andrew Boultbee.
Camera IconMcIntosh’s Johnny Inferrera and David Thorne with York grower Andrew Boultbee. Credit: McIntosh & Son

Destroying weed seeds via their harvesters was always going to be a natural progression for the Boultbee family near York — they were just waiting for the latest integrated weed seed control systems and technology to mature.

The Boultbees have been practising harvest weed seed control since the turn of the century, using chaff decks and chaff carts in more recent years to target annual ryegrass, brome grass and wild radish weed seeds.

Andrew and Marjorie Boultbee have been continuously cropping areas of their home property and leased land in the Avon region since the early 1980s.

The cropping program generally follows canola-wheat-wheat or canola-barley-barley rotations, as well as growing hay, on soils ranging from loams to lighter land and some tamma country.

Their three children Briony, Ben and Kate were recently home from university to help with the latest harvest.

The family also runs about 3000 Merino and crossbred sheep, confined to grazing areas.

Mr Boultbee said they ran into herbicide-tolerant weed populations many years ago, and so were early adopters of HWSC to ensure weed pressures did not dictate cropping rotations, as well as to achieve good weed control on the leased land.

“We haven’t burned on a broad scale for 20 years, so that took one of the weed control tools away,” he said.

“We started with chaff carts and then put weed seeds in tramlines with the chaff decks, but we were always heading toward destroying weed seeds.

“We were just waiting for the Seed Destructor to become vertical and reliable.”

The family had the new vertical, mechanical Harrington Seed Destructor installed on each of their two John Deere S680 headers by McIntosh & Son at Wongan Hills before the last harvest.

Everything off the sieve goes through the mill, so with the horizontal system, if you put a knife guard through the mill, you have to rebook your holidays and spend $10,000.

Andrew Boultbee

Invented by WA grower Ray Harrington and independently shown to kill up to 99 per cent of weed seeds, the Seed Destructor is designed and manufactured by de Bruin Engineering and distributed nationally by McIntosh Distribution.

The core mill technology was developed by UniSA with funding and support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

The system can be fitted to later-model John Deere, Case IH, New Holland and Claas harvesters, with no permanent modifications required, and is designed to operate at 3000rpm to maximise mill capacity.

“We looked at everything and we saw the Seed Destructor as a more reliable system,’’ Mr Boultbee said.

“It needed to be vertical, otherwise you compromise your cut height protecting the unit from rocks, and hydraulics are expensive and unreliable.

“We have done so much with chaff carts and have seen that unreliable machines can compromise your harvest time, so it’s why we needed to choose the best option.”

Mr Boultbee said the system mitigated the risk of damage.

“Everything off the sieve goes through the mill, so with the horizontal system, if you put a knife guard through the mill, you have to rebook your holidays and spend $10,000.

“With the vertical Seed Destructor, you have a sump (stone trap), so you have got a sporting chance to catch it.

“Some of the rubbish you find in the sump of the Seed Destructor, you wouldn’t want it going through the mill. We are used to having the fronts on the ground, at beer-can height or less, and travel at 8-8.5km/h maximum to limit damage.’’

The Boultbees have been able to check grain losses when required, and were pleased with the wearability of the Seed Destructor mills after about 550 harvest hours.

“The wear was pretty even and they made it through harvest in our system. I think they would do about 600 hours, and we are quite comfortable with that considering what we have heard,’’ Mr Boultbee said.

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