Judson Wheatley, managing director for de Bruin Engineering, made the long trip from Australia to the US in mid-May to visit farmers using the de Bruin Integrated Harrington Seed Destructor (iHSD) as part of USDA-NRCS and USDA-ARS funded research projects. His objective was to provide technical assistance regarding iHSD installation on combines and discussing the capabilities of this technology.
After visiting several farms, he mentioned that everyone with whom he spoke was very interested in targeting herbicide resistance, including using more modes of action. Farmers want to benefit from residual herbicides as long as possible, but they know they are lacking good and consistent weed control, so that is where this technology has a fit. He found US farmers to be very open and honest about the weed problems they are seeing and the situation they are facing. Farmers were aware of the benefits that harvest weed seed control could provide and the potential value of impact mills.
To help increase harvest weed seed control adoption, de Bruin will concentrate on regions where their product will have the best fit based on their success in Australia, and then expand to other regions. GROW and other research teams are conducting impact mill trials across the US to identify the best uses of this technology under a range of environmental conditions. Jud said there are two main challenges impact mills could face in the US. First and most importantly, US cropping systems get more precipitation than those in Australia. Impact mills may not be as efficient when chaff moisture is above 18%. The other challenge is combine size and power. Australian farms are larger than most farms in the US, so the current iHSD units were designed for larger combines. Currently the iHSD is not appropriate for smaller combines.
Jud said that when entering a new market, de Bruin wants to make sure their product is going to work. When introducing iHSD to a new market, they are careful to provide helpful and timely customer service to avoid delaying farm operations. Although the farmers he spoke with were a little hesitant since this is very new to North America, Jud was confident in the technology. He noted that the original pull-behind Harrington seed destructor was developed 25 years ago, and seed impact mills integrated with combines were developed in 2016. They have over 400 units in the field in Australia. He said that the technology has moved beyond the initial research and development phase. As he said, “It will need some tweaking in North America” but there is nothing left to chance, given all the different trials being conducted across the US including the GROW program.
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