THE FEDERAL Government has awarded a $300,000 Accelerating Commercialisation Grant to the Seed Terminator, a harvester-fitted unit which is proving to be highly effective in destroying weed seeds.
Developed by Kangaroo Island agricultural entrepreneur Dr Nick Berry, the Seed Terminator uses a multi-stage hammermill to kill weed seeds in one pass. It underwent on-farm trials in Western Australia, South Australia, NSW and Victoria during the 2016-2017 harvest.
Trials with the Weed Science Research Group from the University of Adelaide last year showed a greater than 90 per cent weed-seed kill using the Seed Terminator at 2700rpm.
“The results exceeded expectations and the grant will now enable us to develop commercial manufacturing arrangements so our units can be in the field by next harvest,” Dr Berry said.
Dr Berry and Seed Terminator company director, Mark Ashenden, have negotiated commercial arrangements with manufacturing and assembly partners in WA and Adelaide, ready to commence limited commercial production next month.
They are also talking to installation partners in WA, SA, NSW and Victoria, and eyeing export opportunities.
The units will retail for just under $100,000, and can be fitted to new and second-hand John Deere, CASE IH and New Holland Class 7, 8 and 9 harvesters.
The 2016-17 prototype trials were conducted on John Deere (STS9760, 2xS680), CASE IH (7120, 8010, 8120, 9240) and New Holland (CR8090) models.
“I was lucky to grow up on a farm on Kangaroo Island which was pioneered by my soldier-settler grandparents, and I wanted to make a sustainable difference by developing a technology that could be used by all farmers, regardless of their size or the colour of their harvester.”
Dr Berry said the Seed Terminator offered an alternative to “drastic measures” of non-chemical weed control, such as the burning of windrows and chaff-cart piles, which depleted nutrients and ground cover.
Unique features include:
Driven from the harvester’s engine by shafts, belts and gearboxes, Dr Berry said the unit was highly efficient with minimal transmission losses, and worked on smaller as well as large harvesters.
Farmers are invited to join the Seed Termination Society to keep up to date with trials, research and machine releases, as well as submit Expressions of Interest to participate in the unit’s commercial roll-out this year.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) estimated in 2016 that weeds cost Australian grain growers around $3.3 billion annually, and yield losses of 2.76 million tonnes.
The GRDC also estimated herbicide resistance costs farmers around $187 million a year in herbicide treatment costs and other weed management practices.
Accelerating Commercialisation is a Federal Government initiative which helps entrepreneurs, researchers and small-to-medium businesses commercialise products, processes and services.
Funding for the grant has come through the Department of Innovation, Industry and Science.
Mr Ashenden said the grant was the culmination of an extensive process of due diligence by government, legal, accounting, patent and investor representatives which had provided the foundation for domestic and export sales of the unit.