24 August 2020
Like many spray contractors and growers, Nathan Porter had to think long and hard about a large investment into a spot spraying system. Coming on the heels of a drought and amid tough business conditions made it even more unsettling. Talk to him now and he will tell you it was one of the best decisions he has made…
AT A GLANCE
Photo caption: Craig Mason (right) with WJ Matthews at Moree, recently caught up with spraying contractor in the region, Nathan Porter, Porter Spraying, to check on the performance of Nathan’s new WeedSeeker 2 spot spraying system.
FOLLOWING several years of drought in Northern New South Wales, spraying contractor Nathan Porter was a little nervy about a significant investment into spot spray technology, however after completing 25,000 hectares, the system has since paid for itself and helped save his business from struggling.
Porter Spraying runs two Goldacres G4 Series Crop Cruiser self-propelled sprayers mainly in the Moree and Bourke areas. The G4 Series features a 4000-litre tank and 36-metre boom.
The spraying work targets mainly weeds, but also insects and disease, in cotton as well as winter crops of wheat, barley and chickpea, while significant areas of fallow also are covered.
Nathan said milk thistle had been a problem this year, while fleabane and peachvine also can get out of control. Whitefly and heliothis are some of the major insects targeted in cotton.
The Goldacres sprayers switch between 3-metre and 2m wheel centres for their work on dryland and in irrigated country with 1m beds.
A strong relationship with local farm machinery dealer principal Jeremy Matthews, of WJ Matthews, convinced Nathan of his investment in the latest WeedSeeker 2 spot spraying system from Trimble.
“We were also at the point of needing to do something because of the drought. We didn’t want to spend all the money blanket spraying,’’ Nathan said.
“Jeremy and the team at WJ Matthews were brilliant. The service and support from all the team is very good. With Scott (Jameson) and Tim (Morris) as well (with Australian distributor, McIntosh Distribution), the support is unreal.’’
He said 72 WeedSeeker 2 camera sensors were installed on one of the Goldacres sprayers used for targeting weeds mainly in fallow and wheat stubbles.
The new sensors are spaced at wider, 50cm intervals across booms, effectively reducing the number required by 30 per cent, while they are also 50pc lighter than their predecessor. This has helped to reduce the overall weight on spray booms and also allows the system to be used on wider platforms.
Compared with other similar products that have sensors spaced at every metre along booms, the 50cm spacing also provides for double the resolution when spraying weeds, which is especially valuable in situations with heavy stubble burdens.
Nathan said the ISOBUS compatibility with WeedSeeker 2 was a major bonus. It works seamlessly with his GreenStar 2630 display screen.
“You just plug the controller in and away you go. You can’t stuff it up.’’
He said the automatic calibration provided by the intelligent, self-learning sensors was another excellent feature, constantly adjusting to the environment they work in.
“They check the background as you are going along – they are unreal.’’
“Every paddock we go into, it does a calibration in five seconds, which is great for peace of mind.’’
Nathan said weed mapping, which pinpoints where and when weeds are treated in paddocks, adds further intelligence and is something he can then hand over to agronomists and consultants.
He also liked the fact the spray boom operated fully once above a height of 600 millimetres from the ground.
“If the boom is a bit slow coming down and you are above that height, everything will come on, so you physically can’t miss weeds.’’
Section control and turn compensation are other popular features of the WeedSeeker 2 system.
Nathan said the system was effectively reducing chemical use by 85-90pc, amounting to thousands of dollars in chemical savings and, hence, it already had paid for itself.
He said recently it had been operating near Bourke, where it was spraying around the clock and had not been turned off for five days.
Farmers interested in further information or viewing a demonstration of the WeedSeeker 2 spot spraying system can contact their nearest dealer.