Miller adds ‘Green-on-Green’ spot spray option

26 November 2021

Photo caption: Miller Australia National Sales Manager Peter Vella and Bilberry Australian Sales Manager Josh Johnson are looking forward to the operation of Bilberry’s Green-on-Green spot spray technology on the front-mounted Miller sprayers.

THE increased sophistication and customisation of the Miller sprayer range for Australian growers has been further enhanced, with Bilberry “Green-on-Green’’ weed identifying technology now added to the list of local, factory-fitted options on the popular sprayers.

The renowned front-mounted Miller sprayers already feature an array of options including a complete range of nozzle application systems, Raven XRT auto height control and four-wheel steer, as well as Miller’s Spray-Air platform and other third party air-assisted systems, while WeedSeeker 2 Reflected Light spot spray technology also can be used with the machines.

The Bilberry Intelligent Spot Spraying System, from the namesake tech start-up company, uses an embedded camera network, artificial intelligence and deep learning software to identify weeds in-crop or in Green-on-Green applications.

The high speed, high definition cameras are installed at 3-metre intervals along the booms to scan paddocks and the company’s weed recognition algorithms are constantly evolving to ensure specific weeds are precisely targeted with the appropriate herbicide in real time.

Bilberry Australian Sales Manager Josh Johnson said blue lupin was expected to join the broadleaf weeds currently identified for Green-on-Green applications, while grass weeds in some broadleaf crops could be added in 2023.

In addition to the technology’s use in wheat, barley and oat crops, Josh said it also was set to be available for lupins in 2022 and soon-after for broadleaf break crops and pastures.

Peter Vella, National Miller Sales Manager with its Australian distributor, McIntosh Distribution, said the recent move was part of a continued focus by Miller to offer end-users the latest in spray application technologies.

He said Bilberry was the leading provider of Green-on-Green technology in a nice, easy format and the partnership also would help further grow the company’s business in Australia.

“One of the strong advantages with Bilberry is that it has recognised the importance of the Australian market and, as such, it has established an office here and its CEO and a substantial part of the company’s research and development capacity are in Australia,’’ Peter said.

“It is comforting for end-users to know that the technology and its development is being done here.’’

Green-on-Green trials with the Bilberry Intelligent Spot Spraying System have shown an average hit and kill rate of 80 per cent, as well as chemical savings of up to 90pc.

Peter said the technology also allowed opportunity for more concentrated herbicide applications and use of particular selective herbicides to better control difficult weeds, while reduced in-crop spraying could help delay the development of herbicide resistance, avoid potential yield penalties and minimise environmental impacts.

Another bonus with the technology is its ability to map weed populations, helping to further prevent herbicide resistance.

Peter said growers also could potentially gain an understanding of crop growth stage and disease status and receive GPS-logged data that could assist nitrogen and fungicide applications, as well as their overall farm management strategy.

The Bilberry cameras can be used at travelling speeds of up to 20 kilometres per hour, allowing growers to maintain high capacity spraying operations.

The system fully integrates with Miller’s electronics and is available on the Miller truss booms up to 41.5m and the Pommier 48m aluminium boom. The full integration also allows users to easily change from spot to blanket spraying.

In addition to the hardware investment, growers pay a subscription to the Bilberry Intelligent Spot Spraying System either per hectare or on an annual basis with unlimited hectares. This also incorporates all software updates and performance improvements.

“Every year the system is getting smarter and smarter, with improved algorithms,’’ Peter said.

Josh said he looked forward to the operation of the Bilberry system on the front-mounted Miller sprayers.

“We haven’t had the system on front-mounted booms previously, so it is quite exciting and different in the marketplace,’’ Josh said.

He said there was an immediate strong connection between the Bilberry and Miller Australia teams, driven by the high level of customer support with Miller sprayers that mirrored Bilberry’s service approach with its own customers.

“Our values both aligned and the relationship brings together a strong brand with an up and coming brand and will help extend our footprint across WA and Australia.’’

A limited number of the Bilberry systems will be available with Miller sprayers for 2022. Growers interested in further information about the systems and their integration with Miller sprayers can contact their local Miller dealer.

Media information: Rohan Howatson, Howatson PR, on 0407 428 459.