Curious about grinding up weed seed before they spill out the back of your combine? It’s an established concept in Australia where a couple of companies manufacture impact mills for retrofitting to the back end of combines.
Now, a third company has entered the niche, and for American farmers, this manufacturer is closer to home, Canada’s Redekop Manufacturing.
You might say that Redekop backed into the seed destruction category. It found high demand in Australia for its chaff carts, which in Canada are pulled behind combines to collect fodder during grain harvest. But in Australia, farmers used their carts to gather chaff – and weed seed riding along with it – so that they could remove the seed from fields. That caught the company’s attention.
Now, Redekop has commercialized its own impact-mill attachment, the Seed Control Unit (SCU). It incorporates the company’s MAV straw chopper. In the Australian market,Redekop’s SCU joins two locally designed and built mills, the iHSD and Seed Terminator.
“Herbicide resistance in Canada is about five years behind the situation in Australia but it is definitely an increasing problem,” says Trevor Thiessen, Redekop’s president. “We have been working toward the development of the SCU since 2013 and tested the first units in 2017 in Australia and Canada.”
In 2018 company evaluations, seed “kill” rates consistently topped 98%, he says, but he adds that the machine hasn’t been tested yet under certain conditions and weeds.
Independent testing of the SCU is underway under the direction of Breanne Tidemann, a research agronomist and weed scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Alberta. Since 2016, Breanne also has been evaluating a tow-behind HSD unit in Canada.
Plenty Of Demand In Australia
Admittedly, news of more competition is probably is bigger news Down Under than in the U.S. or Canada. Farmers in Australia already have latched on to the technology and plenty of sales still seem to be on the horizon.
Australia’s WeedSmart group surveyed over 100 Aussie farmers who were spread across the country’s farming regions, asking about their buying intentions in terms of impact mills.
Nearly half those Australian farmers said they planned to buy one of the units in the next three to five years.
One Australian manufacturer also rolled out a new model last year at a lower price than its previous unit.
The recent expansion of growers wanting to use impact mills to eliminate weed seeds looks very promising, said Peter Newman with the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative and a WeedSmart regional agronomist.
“The three impact mills currently available are all integrated into harvesters, making harvest weed seed control very time-efficient,” he said in a WeedSmart report. “One important aspect that Redekop has really focused on is achieving even spread of the crop residue out the back of the harvester. This is critical to the integrated mill systems achieving the most cost-effective outcome for growers by re-distributing nutrients across the full cutter-bar width.”
Redekop put 20 SCUs in Western Australia over the last harvest, backed up by a team of support and research personnel to further assess performance in Australian conditions and address any mechanical issues.
The SCUs are available as either a complete unit incorporating a MAV chopper suitable for all harvester types or as a purpose-built mill that fits onto a John Deere residue manager. Being integrated with the straw chopper, farmers can easily switch from chopper-only to chopper plus weed seed control.
Redekop is also involved in introducing the Australian-built EMAR chaff decks to Canadian growers as an entry-level investment in harvest weed seed control.