New ‘seed destructor’ will combat weeds

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 25th May 2010

A device designed to stop the growth of weeds by destroying their seeds before planting will be trialled this harvest by the University of Western Australia.

The device, the ‘Harrington Seed Destructor’, was invented by Darkan wheat farmer Ray Harrington to combat herbicide-resistant weeds, particularly ryegrass and wild radish, by milling seeds to prevent them germinating.

“I adapted an 85 year-old mining technology to build a high-impact, high-speed cage mill which destroys 90-95 per cent of weed seeds, preventing them from germinating,” Mr Harrington said. “This discovery came after years of trying other methods of destroying weed seed including catching and carting, cooking and cremating.”

Mr Harrington said meeting UWA’s Winthrop Professor Stephen Powles was the turning point in the development of the device.

“Steve was a guest speaker at a No-Till Farming Association reunion in Kojonup and I told him about the mill. He said he had a gut feeling that it would work and made the decision to trial it.  Since then the Grains Research and Development Corporation has been heavily involved with this project, by funding trials and the development of the machine.”

The destructor is towed behind a header at harvest.  The header separates the chaff fraction containing weed seeds from the straw, which is fed into the mill.  This pulverises any weed seeds in the chaff fraction and returns it to the paddock.