Revolutionary Weed Chipper ‘a must’ for growers looking for alternatives to herbicide

Olivia FordCountryman
UWA School of Engineering agricultural engineer Andrew Guzzomi showcased the Wood Chipper at this year’s evokeAg.
Camera IconUWA School of Engineering agricultural engineer Andrew Guzzomi showcased the Wood Chipper at this year’s evokeAg. Credit: Ryan Early

An award-winning mechanical weeding machine recently showcased at the Asia-Pacific’s largest agricultural event is getting closer to farm paddocks as it nears the pre-commercial stage.

At this year’s evokeAg, UWA researchers and engineers showcased their innovative projects, including their site specific weeding machine.

The Weed Chipper, intended for large scale cropping operations, uses commercially available sensing technology and rapid response tines which work like mechanical hoes to chip out weeds.

According to the team behind the Weed Chipper’s creation, it will be a game-changer for growers looking for alternatives to herbicides.

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Speaking at the EvokeAg in Perth, UWA School of Engineering agriculture engineer Andrew Guzzomi said the growing issue of herbicide resistance in Australia meant farmers needed to find alternatives to chemical approaches.

Andrew Guzzomi and Carlos Peressini at evokeAg.
Camera IconAndrew Guzzomi and Carlos Peressini at evokeAg. Credit: Olivia Ford

“At the moment, the things that are only really feasible at a large scale cropping is herbicides, but farmers need alternatives to those devices ... Herbicide resistance is a growing issue in Australian and global agriculture,” Professor Guzzomi said.

“There is a real need for ag tech and agricultural engineering innovations to come up with new technologies which can compliment herbicide approaches and potentially maybe one day replace them.”

Professor Guzzomi said even if farmers did not opt to replace herbicides completely, using alternatives such as the Weed Chipper could extend the life of their herbicide applications.

“By rotating different approaches through their farming system, farmers might extend the time it takes for weeds to develop herbicide resistance because they’re not just using the same herbicide year in year out,” he said.

Professor Guzzomi said functional prototypes of the Weed Chipper had gone through field testing.

“We’re interested now in refining the packaging of those systems so they can become smaller and more elegant in terms of engineering,” he said.

“In terms of technology readiness, this is quite mature.”

Professor Guzzomi said the team was now looking to explore commercialisation pathways and gauging interest through events such as their showcase at evokeAg.

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