Demon sorts weed seed from the chaff

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Its name is the Seed Demon but DE Engineers believes its newest machine could be the saviour of weed-burdened paddocks.

The machine has been in the pipeline for six years and will be unveiled to the public for the first time at Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days.

DE Engineers owner and inventor Kevin Prater said it was the only machine of its type in the world.

The idea is to achieve similar results as a chaff cart but with the added benefit of returning straw straight to the paddock.

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Mr Prater said the Seed Demon used a revolutionary method to sort the weed seeds from the chaff.

"All the chaff gets blown out the back of the header and as with the chaff cart it's picked up on a walker mat," he said.

"But instead of trying to hold it and put it in piles to burn later, or to crush every seed in it like other machines do, it goes through a rotary sieve, just like the DE Engineers rotary cleaners.

"That's what we want to do - split small seed from straw and just leave the straw in the paddock."

Mr Prater said the design of the Seed Demon simply made sense - farmers would no longer have to burn heaps of chaff to destroy weed seeds and the machine would be lighter and cheaper than chaff carts.

"Some of the chaff carts are pretty expensive, some are costing in excess of $100,000," he said. .

"We're hoping to build this for under $30,000 or $40,000.

"The best part is it's leaving the straw in the paddock and it doesn't weigh so much.

"This thing wouldn't weigh more than a tonne, all up."

That meant less wear and tear on the harvester and ultimately less fuel.

But the machine is still a prototype and Mr Prater said its first trial with straw was not far away.

"After that it's ready to be hitched behind a harvester to give it a trial for this season," he said.

"I've had dozens of people ring me and say put me down for that trial and a lot of them are people who have chaff carts which are destroying their header."

Mr Prater said after its trial run this harvest, the Seed Demon might need some minor tweaks, possibly to determine the optimum barrel speed, but it should be on the market ready for the following harvest.

"At the moment we're running a 9mm-wide slot, so anything that is under 9mm, which is going to include smaller chaff, brome grass and radish, will be picked up," he said.

"This may be too coarse for what people want and we may be able to get the weed seeds we want by using a smaller one.

"We will be able to change the screens to suit."

The finishing touches to the Seed Demon prototype were made last week, just in time for farmers to get an eyeful of the machine at Dowerin.

Mr Prater said the push for such a machine had come from growers and he had little doubt the Seed Demon would generate interest.

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