Imagine pulling a cage mill-on-wheels behind your combine that eats chaff and seed tailings, then spits them out. Well, you don't have to imagine it.
More than a year ago, Farm Progress reported on Aussie Ray Harrington's novel way of busting out-of-control weed populations at harvest – with a tag-along cage mill. To read it, click on Nail Next Year's Weeds At Harvest Via A Tag-Along 'Seed-Buster.
Now, Weed Science Society of America experts are taking a close look at the strategy for controlling out-of-control populations of herbicide-resistant weeds.
By Aussie standards, weed densities on many U.S. and Canada farms are "out of control", contends Michael Walsh, a member of the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative. That used to be the case in Australia. "After a decade of struggling with multiple types of herbicide resistance, we simply don't tolerate weeds at any stage in our cropping system," says Walsh. "Taking preemptive action with harvest-time weed seed control can benefit crop yields and improve profitability."
Despite declaring they'd never do it, many Australian farmers now attach a chaff cart to the back of each harvester. Weed seeds are gathered in the cart with other chaff and then destroyed or used for feed. "Bale direct" systems take things one step further. The chaff is actually baled as it is collected and then used for livestock feed. Chaff carts and bale direct systems can capture 90% or more of the weed seeds gathered by the harvester and keep them from being blown back onto the field.
A better idea?
Harrington designed a system that mills chaff to destroy weed seeds as they're collected. Residues can then be dispersed directly onto the field so moisture and nutrients are conserved.
A recent study shows the Harrington Seed Destructor successfully destroys more than 90% of harvested weed seeds. Harvest-time seed control techniques help farmers achieve significantly better weed control results than with herbicides alone, suggests Walsh.
For WSSA tips on managing herbicide-resistant weeds, visit http://wssa.net/weed/resistance.