Local manufacturer to commercialise weed management innovation

Photo: Precision Agronomics Australia

WA-based manufacturer Precision Agronomics Australia (PAA) and the University of Western Australia are partnering to commercialise a mechanical weed chipper, which allows farmers to reduce the use of herbicides for weed management in large scale cropping operations.

UWA’s inaugural agricultural engineer, Dr Andrew Guzzomi, said commercialisation of the research was a significant development for Australian grain growers and the grains industry in general.

“As a UWA engineering graduate, it is exciting to be part of research and development that translates into commercial outcomes that can be adopted quickly by Australian grain growers while also supporting the local manufacturing industry,” Guzzomi said.

Guzzomi said he is eager to see the mechanical technology produced by a local WA company.

Director of PAA, Matthew Roesner, said his company was excited about the opportunity to work with UWA to offer cutting-edge technology to the industry and continue to advance agricultural research and development in Australia.

“This is an ideal project for us to be involved in given PAA’s commitment to producing new technologies that provide measurable productivity gains for our customers,” Roesner said.

“PAA is particularly excited about commercialising the Weed Chipper, it is another great example of Australian grower innovation.”

The weed chipper, designed by agricultural engineers and researchers from UWA and the University of Sydney, uses specifically designed rapid response ‘tynes’, which behave like mechanical hoes when triggered by commercially available sensing technology when weeds are detected in fallow paddocks. The technology took out the Rio Tinto Emerging Innovation award category at the 2019 WA Innovator of the Year awards.

Guzzomi and Dr Carlo Peressini from UWA’s School of Engineering worked closely with David Nowland Hydraulics to design the mechanical system that will now be commercialised and offered to Australian farmers by PAA.

The University of Sydney led the weed control testing in partnership with researchers from The University of Queensland and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Dr Michael Walsh, Director of Weed Research at The University of Sydney, said the initial concept was conceived during a visit to the northern grain growing region of NSW and Queensland in 2012 while he was working at UWA, with West Australian growers Ray Harrington, Andrew Messina and Lance Turner.

The project received funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation and was created in response to the growing concerns about herbicide resistance, which is a major problem for Australian farmers due to the loss of valuable herbicide options.  With no new herbicides to replace those lost due to resistance and growing public concerns on the use of herbicides, alternative weed control solutions need to be found.