December 6, 2012
The Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) field crop pathology group is heading into new territory this harvest. For the first time in 30 years staff will reap their crops with a brand new machine. The shining green header arrived from Germany in mid-November and features not only improved performance but automatic weighing and air conditioned comfort. Within days of arriving at Horsham it has been put to work on the thousands of disease screening trials grown at DPI’s Plant Breeding Centre near Horsham. DPI scientist Dr Grant Hollaway’s team grows thousands of plots of cereals to develop improved disease management methods for farmers. Each plot must be individually identified, weighed and stored which until this season had involved three people working in the paddock at harvest. Dr Hollaway said it was an exciting addition to the fleet. “The previous header was 30 years old and staff had to weigh samples by hand off the back of a truck in the paddock. “This header is a big step forward with computerised weighing and sub-sampling which will greatly improve efficiencies. “We no longer have staff working on the ground next to the header, instead all field staff are working in an air conditioned cabin which provides a much better and safer environment. “The harvesting team is very impressed with the quality of the sample delivered from the new machine,” Dr Hollaway said.