Darling Downs farmer seeks out cheaper control of Rhodes grass

Weedseeker system delivers knockout on a Darling Downs farm

Machinery
READY FOR BATTLE: A Hardi boomspray was sitting idle but is now set up permanently for spot spraying troublesome Feathertop Rhodes Grass on the Peters family's Darling Downs farm.

READY FOR BATTLE: A Hardi boomspray was sitting idle but is now set up permanently for spot spraying troublesome Feathertop Rhodes Grass on the Peters family's Darling Downs farm.

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A Darling Downs farmer has found a great ally in a Weedseeker 2 system in his battle against Feathertop Rhodes grass.

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A WeedSeeker 2 spot spraying system is now playing a key role in a Darling Downs farmer's tough battle to control Feathertop Rhodes grass (FTR).

Shane Peters was forced to look for an alternative to expensive blanket applications of herbicides to control FTR which was resistant to glyphosate (Roundup).

Mr Peters and wife, Tabitha, together with their children, William (10), Thomas (7) and Katelyn (6), farm 670 hectares of mainly black soils between Toowoomba and Warwick including their Ackmer property as well as leased and share-farmed land.

They grow mainly summer crops of corn and sorghum on 460ha although recent drier seasons have impacted the corn production area.

Winter crops include mainly barley and some wheat and chickpeas. The remaining grass country accommodates Droughtmaster breeders running with Angus bulls.

Mr Peters said FTR can become a problem following germinations from late spring.

"If you don't get onto it quickly it gets up and is a huge problem,'' he said.

FTR through the area was resistant to glyphosate and other effective herbicides against the weed can cost $100 a ha, he said.

COST RELIEF: Darling Downs farmers Tabitha and Shane Peters with the new WeedSeeker 2 spot spraying system installed on their older, three-point linkage, 24-metre Hardi boomspray.

COST RELIEF: Darling Downs farmers Tabitha and Shane Peters with the new WeedSeeker 2 spot spraying system installed on their older, three-point linkage, 24-metre Hardi boomspray.

"You couldn't do a blanket spray with the other products. You would have to look at other strategies like cultivation.''

This prompted Mr Peters to invest in the new WeedSeeker 2 spot spraying system from Trimble last year, purchased through Anthony Morgan at the Dalby branch of McIntosh and Son.

"After a decent rain to get a good flush of weeds we do a blanket spray of Roundup (glyphosate) but the feathertop laughs at it so we now come back after four weeks and again later, if necessary, with the WeedSeeker to clean it up."

He said it was his first foray into the technology and he was targeting the chemical savings achieved by spot spraying.

"We did some sums and think it will pay for itself pretty quickly - maybe in four years.''

Mr Peters first saw the WeedSeeker 2 at AgQuip field days at Gunnedah and liked the look and layout of the system.

The Peters' WeedSeeker 2 system was installed on an older, three-point linkage, 24-metre Hardi boomspray that was sitting idle but is now set up permanently for the spot spraying applications.

The WeedSeeker 2 sensors were installed over two planter widths (15m) to suit the family's tramline farming system, however Mr Peters said he would be keen to extend it to three planter widths. They use a 7.2m planter on 2.4m wheel centres.

Mr Peters said the ability to immediately "plug and play'' with the system through the existing ISO display due to its ISOBUS compatibility was a great benefit with the WeedSeeker 2.

He said the sensors were light and simple and could operate at variable boom height, which was a bonus in their undulating country.

The WeedSeeker 2 sensors are 50pc lighter than their predecessor, helping to reduce the overall weight of the system on spray booms while their spacing along booms has widened from 38 to 50cm, effectively reducing sensor numbers by 30pc. The lighter sensors also allow the system to be used on wider platforms.

Mr Peters said the automatic calibration with the intelligent, self-learning WeedSeeker 2 sensors was a major benefit, constantly adjusting to the environment they work in.

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