WA designed picker offers hope for those on the rocks

27 Jul, 1999 10:56 PM
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By Paul Jarvis MANJIMUP horticulturist Peter Whild was faced with something of an obstacle in setting up the state's largest centre pivot irrigation operation at Manjimup < the country he had targeted had a rock problem. Not the ideal scenario if you are planning to install a 450 metre centre pivot irrigation system to grow large-scale intensive vegetables. So Peter and his brother, Colin, improvised, designing and building a machine incorporating all the features they felt necessary to deal with the problem. The result is the Whild Rock and Stick Picker, a completely hydraulically driven variation on the traditional rock and stump picker design, that not only removes the rocks from the surface, but from a depth of 200-300mm under the surface, eliminating the need to rip and windrow. Their design is rugged enough to deal with the likes of ironstone and granite, and also is very stable, thanks to a long, low chassis design and broad stance. The other great advantage to the design is the separate variable rate hydromotors used to drive the collecting web and draper, enabling the operator to vary component speeds independently of ground speed to ensure the machine is always working at its optimum, regardless of conditions. The collecting web, constructed of rubber belting and steel bars, feeds the rocks back into the collection bin, where the independently driven draper prevents them from rolling back down, ensuring a clean collection area at the front of the machine at all times. According to Mr Whild, the rock picker immediately began paying its way in the process of making the Manjimup land sufficiently clean to prepare for the installation of the centre pivot. "We ended getting around 5000 tonnes of granite out of the front 20 acres, which we sold to the council to line the town's sewage dam," he said. "The whole 200 acres took us a couple of hundred hours to get clean, and it was all granite." While the Whilds have no plans at present to go into full-time production, the rock picker is available for hire with a 190hp John Deere 8100 mechanical four-wheel drive tractor and operator. The machine can clean half an acre to an acre per hour, depending on conditions, and has so far been employed to prepare ground for a variety of enterprises, ranging from vineyards to intensive horticulture. ÿ

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