A paper capturing the research behind a unique mechanical weed chipper developed by The University of Western Australia and The University of Sydney (USYD) has received the Most Outstanding Paper Award for publications in the Weed Technology journal.
Project leader, USYD Associate Professor Michael Walsh, accepted the award on behalf of the project team at the Weed Science Society of America’s virtual 2021 Annual Conference in February.
The paper, published in the Weed Technology journal, highlights the innovativeness of the unique mechanical system that provides an alternative to using herbicides for weed management in largescale cropping operations.
The weed chipper uses specifically-designed rapid response ‘tynes’ that behave like mechanical hoes, coupled with commercially-available sensing technology to detect and chip out weeds in fallow fields.
It is the first mechanical system capable of site-specific weed control in Australian grain production.
The research and development team that undertook the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)-funded weed chipper project consisted of weed scientists from USYD, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland and the University of Queensland, agricultural engineers from UWA, hydraulics experts from David Nowland Hydraulics and innovative grain growers from WA and Queensland.
UWA’s inaugural agricultural engineer Dr Andrew Guzzomi from the UWA School of Engineering and The UWA Institute of Agriculture, who led the engineering design of the weed chipper, said the award came after performing extensive research, development and testing with a multidisciplinary team and industry partners.
“I’m excited by the prospect of seeing these machines being put to use by Australian farmers who need alternatives to herbicidal weed control,” Dr Guzzomi said.
Dr Walsh said receiving the award from such a prestigious body spoke volumes for the technology and the work of the team involved.
“It demonstrates the merit of the innovation and the potential impact that mechanical non-chemical approaches could have in helping combat the persistence of tough-to-kill herbicide resistant weeds,” he said.
The award is the most recent accolade for the weed chipper, which also won the Rio Tinto WA Innovator of the Year emerging category award in 2019.
The next milestone for the weed chipper will be its commercial release onto the market, expected later this year (2021).