News / Events

WeedSeeker - Summer spraying made easier at Katanning

24 November 2015

Farm Weekly - Thursday 19 November 2015

Katanning farmers Matt (left) and Simon Kerin (right) with McIntosh and Son Katanning sales representative Dan Tracey, looking over their 36-metre Quick Disconnect WeedSeeker Kit, which attaches to their existing self-propelled sprayer.

INVESTING in spot spraying technology has already delivered big benefits for Katanning farmer Simon Kerin. 

Simon farms with his brother Matt and their father Peter, cropping 3200 hectares at Katanning, and also runs a spray contracting business, Kalbun Spraying Services.

Harvest has begun on this year’s program of canola, wheat, barley, lupins and oats for oaten export hay.

It was during last season’s harvest when Simon said they noticed a lot of summer weeds and knew they would be set for some intensive summer spraying. 

Frustrated at having to spray whole paddocks, the family decided to invest in spot spraying technology to take a more targeted approach, increase efficiency and reduce chemical usage, both on their own farm and in the contracting business. 

“I hadn’t really seen a WeedSeeker in action before, but we had a lot of weeds in crops last harvest and knew we had to do a lot of summer spraying, so we decided to have a look,” Simon said. 

“There isn’t any other WeedSeekers in close proximity, so we thought there was an opportunity there.” 

In January last year, the Kerin family received their 36-metre Quick Disconnect WeedSeeker Kit through Dan Tracey at McIntosh and Son, Katanning, and attached it to their existing self-propelled sprayer.

The WeedSeeker selective spot spray system works by emitting a dual frequency light band, with the reflected light analysed by a sensor looking for the distinct light signature of chlorophyll present in weeds. 

If a weed is present, a signal is sent to a solenoid that directs a burst of chemical directly onto the weed. 

This is performed incredibly fast, with the sensors sampling ground at 79,000 times a second.

The technology offers up to 90 per cent savings in herbicides and operates on suspended booms rather than ground following booms, avoiding any structural concerns and problems associated with maintaining consistent spraying heights.

Simon said as they didn’t get their WeedSeeker until late in the season last year, there were limited opportunities for contract spraying, but what they did complete had been impressive. 

“We did about 1000ha through contract and 2300ha on our property.” 

“We’re targeting melons, fleabane, radish and volunteer crops – anything looking to drag the moisture out really. 

“We only sprayed 19 per cent of our 2300ha using the WeedSeeker. If we had done a blanket spray on that 2300ha, it would have cost us about $23,000 more in chemical.

“We anticipate we could pay off the cost of the investment within three to five years, depending on the level of contract spraying.”

Simon said another benefit with the WeedSeeker was the ability to spray longer in summer and in inclement weather. 

“Summer spraying is probably the worst job, because you have to get up in the middle of the night and spray until about 8-9am, before the Delta-T gets in the way. But with the WeedSeeker, you’re at such a high rate you’re able to go a bit longer,’’ he said.

As well as big savings on the home-front, Simon said they had also seen a big increase in efficiency when contract spraying, as it allowed them to cover more ground from one tank.

He said overall, they had also seen a better result with weed knockdown. 

“You’re spraying slower, but you can spray for seven or eight hours and get through roughly 500ha or more without having to stop and fill up, so it’s at least twice as efficient.’’

“It delivers a more effective knockdown, as individual weeds receive a higher dosage of chemical, so they’re knocked down within a day or so.

“Provided everything is working as it should, it’s reassuring to know that you’ve got what you are targeting and you know you’re not hitting a big melon at half the rate.

“The people we’ve done contract work for have been very happy with the result. It’s ‘job done’ and one less thing they have to worry about when they would rather be on holidays down the coast at that time of year.

“It’s definitely been a worthwhile investment for us on both fronts. We’re seeing benefits with the contracting business and it saves us a lot of hassle at seeding time.” 

Rainfall has interrupted harvest for the Kerin family and many other WA growers more than once already this season, so it’s likely their WeedSeeker will get plenty of use for summer spraying. 

For more information on WeedSeeker spot spray technology, contact your McIntosh & Son branch.

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