WeedIT simply the best solution


Andrew Clift has a credibility problem. The Gunnedah, New South Wales, farmer has stopped telling people how much chemical he is saving with his WeedIT spot spraying system because he reckons they simply don't believe him.

"I tend not to give them my figures any more because you can tell from their tone of voice that they think I'm just blowing my bags," Andrew said.

But his savings of around 90 per cent on both water and chemical are hard to ignore.

Third-generation farmers, Andrew and his brother, Sam, work 5665 hectares on the Liverpool Plains near Breeza.

The brothers' black soil country supports a cropping rotation that includes cotton, sunflowers, sorghum, wheat and barley. They also plant some faba beans and mung beans but sometimes end up ploughing those in if it gets too dry.

Andrew bought the WeedIT cameras three years ago to mount on the 27m boom of his John Deere 4710 sprayer.

"It looked like good technology that would produce savings and Cornish's (the district machinery dealer) guaranteed it would work," he said.

"If the technology is there, you might as well have it. Otherwise, we would still be using horses."

WeedIT uses red light technology to find weeds the size of a 50-cent piece or bigger by detecting their chlorophyll. It then switches on the nozzles for a fraction of a second to make the strike.

The lightning-fast solenoids produce the smallest possible spraying footprint, even at speeds of up to 25km/h.

Andrew said his first day with the WeedIT was a revelation. He thought it wasn't working after going all day and still seeing plenty of mix in the tank.

"I rang Shane at Cornish's and told him the thing wasn't working," he said.

"Shane asked me why, and when I told him, he said that was what it was supposed to do. I had to switch back to broadacre spraying to empty the tank before the mix went off."

Andrew said a recent job of spraying 400ha saw him use 3000 litres of water instead of about 35,000 litres for a conventional broadacre spray.

He said conventional spraying would have required 800 litres of Roundup and 1000 litres of Surpass. Instead, the figures were 100 litres of Roundup and 150 litres of Surpass.

The application rate for spot-spraying with WeedIT was four litres of Roundup per hectare compared with two litres for broadacre spraying.

Andrew said he found weeds on the lake country hard to kill, with plenty of milk thistle and fleabane there.

But because WeedIT reduces chemical use so significantly, he can afford to use the highly effective, but more expensive, chemicals such as Spray.Seed.

"I was broadacre spraying a lake paddock one day because I thought the weed infestation was too thick for spot-spraying," he said.

"At one stage, I thought, bugger it, I'll give the WeedIT a go, and ended up using 10,000 litres less water than I would have otherwise.

"The cameras are set at a metre apart and have been very reliable. The system is so simple to use - you just push start and away you go."

Apart from the sizeable cost savings on chemical, using less water is also a great advantage for Andrew.

"With broadacre spraying I can get through that in a day, easy, and knock off before sundown," he said.

Andrew has no immediate plans to buy a new sprayer, but will definitely look at dual lines to take further advantage of the WeedIT technology.

"You could put a light dose of Roundup through one line to hit the small stuff, then have the cameras on the second line at a higher rate for the bigger weeds," he said.

"I usually come back after a fortnight to get the small stuff that won't reflect for the cameras on the first run.

"It means going over the paddock twice, but does give a complete kill."

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