IT IS not often the words ‘game-changer’ are used in agriculture.
But those are the words that come to mind describing the new mechanical-driven Integrated Harrington Seed Destructor (IHSD), which has continued to record up to 99 per cent kill rates of targeted weed seeds.
And the reason why it will be a game-changer is because the price, of $85,000 plus GST, will make it a “must-have” as an integrated unit on a header.
It will be hard for all combine harvester manufacturers to ignore this technology which already is raising interest in North America and Europe.
The new mechanical vertical mill model utilises the same Harrington mill set used in the hydraulically-driven version.
Each mill contains a rotor mill and a stator mill which rotate consistently at 3000rpm, which sees weed seeds virtually obliterated as they move through vertical vanes.
The mills only collect the chaff containing the weed seeds off the sieves with straw conventionally fed to choppers or out the back.
The new unit was again demonstrated last Friday fitted to a New Holland CR9.90 header, on a strip of crop left by the Bignell family at Broomehill for the demonstration.
According to McIntosh & Son southern branch manager Devon Gilmour, many customers, including the Bignell family, have contributed to the evolution of the product from its commercialisation in 2016.
“This is an evolution of a system which first appeared as a tow-behind unit, associated with inventor (Darkan farmer) Ray Harrington,” Mr Gilmour said.
“It has evolved into an integrated mechanically-driven vertical mill unit, able to be fitted to most popular brands of headers.
“Eight customers operated mechanical-drive units in 2018 in a variety of crops types and combine sizes (280-552 kilowatts, 375 horsepower-700hp) and they performed to our expectations.
“The mechanical vertical mill units achieved the targeted 3000rpm for the mills to perform at their optimum, allowing the combine to perform to its capacity not restricted by mill capacity.
“We had our challenges (with the hydraulic version) in 2016 and 2017, although we had a very good run with the hydraulic versions in 2018 throughout Australia.
“But by the end of 2017, it was clear we needed a more robust and simplified version for the future.
“It’s important to understand that we have designed this unit to incorporate added benefits that we could not achieve in a horizontal mill system.”
Design changes include a stone trap, an ability to calibrate a grain loss monitor, more positive material feed into the mills, double flighting on the auger to maintain balance as it wears, heavier duty bearings (rated at 4000rpm), elimination of electrics (except sensor and camera), upgraded pulleys, easier dismantling of the unit and no modifications to the header.
Retired farmer and McIntosh & Son product performance manager Craig Dennis, who oversaw design and testing of the new unit, said the new vertical mill system went through vigorous tests and development to ensure all targeted features were achieved and potential fatigue and performance risks eliminated.
One of the first questions asked by the group of 120 registered local and interstate farmers who attended the demonstration related to dust.
“The residue coming out of the mills is like talcum powder so you can’t spread it,” Mr Dennis said.
“Our objective is to keep it away from the engine bay and the air cleaner and we have done that by putting the dust under the material from the chopper.”
Mill wear varies considerably by factors such as frost, sand and commodity type with grain loss being a major factor to mill wear.
A full set (left and right sides) cost less than $9000 to replace.
According to Mr Gilmour, it was a very positive demonstration.
“As evidenced by last Friday’s attendance, grower enquiry and feedback, Australian growers certainly have an insatiable appetite for weed seed management tools,” he said.
There are only 100 units allocated Australia-wide for 2019, so contact your local McIntosh & Son dealer for more details.
The IHSD was developed by UniSA with funding and support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation.