We have ways to kill weeds mechanically, but that typically means tillage, which has its own consequences. But what about a way to destroy weeds mechanically, long before the seeds even hit the ground? The Harrington Seed Destructor does exactly that.
“The Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD) is based on a mill that processes the chaff material during harvest,” explains Michael Walsh, associate professor at the University of Western Australia. “In processing that chaff material, it destroys those weed seeds before spreading that material back onto the field.”
The initial HSD prototype was developed by Australian farmer, Ray Harrington, who was driven by the increasing reliance on herbicides. Harrington has since worked in conjunction with the Grains Research and Development Corporation to improve the model, which included the development of its own engine, hydraulics, wireless sensor capabilities and a sleeker design.
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Requiring an incredible 200 horsepower, the HSD allows for effective removal of weed seeds from trash. In Walsh’s 2014 Farmtech presentation, he reported a 95% decrease in annual ryegrass, 92% in wild radish and 99% destruction of wild oat seeds in one study. The HSD means growers can return organic matter to the soil without feeling the need to resort to controlled burns.
Canada will be receiving its first HSD as early as April of this year. It will be used for research done by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
In this video, Walsh talks about the changes in the HSD, some of its features and benefits, how it’s being used in Australia now, and the cost required to purchase and run the machine.
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