Superior seed cleaning and treatment with innovative design
Necessity is said to be the mother of invention, so after numerous seasons of mobile seed cleaning and treatment Pat Cummins, of Klean A Seed at Yarrawonga, decided to build his own machinery.
From his northern Victorian base, Mr Cummins has worked with large scale broadacre farmers in southern New South Wales cleaning and treating winter cereals in preparation for sowing. The services of a professional seed grader like Mr Cummins can help avoid blockages of augers and air seeders at planting, while supporting healthier crops through the management of establishment pests and diseases through the application of quality seed treatments.
“Most of it is wheat and barley,” he said. “We travel from farm to farm, cleaning the seed for next year and a big part of that business is putting the seed dressing onto the seed for the farmers (and) my main calling card is that I can grade from silo to silo.”
As part of the service, working one season to the next, it became clear there were several areas that could be enhanced through customisation of equipment. Particularly around efficiency but also application quality when it came to seed-applied insecticides and fungicides.
Mr Cummins came to call upon experts to assist at key times during development and testing of the machine. From detailed engineer’s plans, early in the piece, through to other highly specialised skillsets nearing the end of the process, this included experts at the Syngenta Seedcare Institute to benchmark his application quality.
Blank canvas thinking
Taking a hands-on approach to the build Mr Cummins made the decision to go to Sydney and complete an Auto CAD course so he could conduct 3D modelling on the computer, and design a new machine to accommodate his numerous improvements and personal touches. He then worked with a draftsperson to design the new machine.
“It became a really good communication tool,” he said. “I knew the outside dimensions of all the containers and the weight, height and length restrictions and that allowed me to put things together on the machine. It gave him a really good platform to work from.”
One of the key upgrades was the addition of elevators with the ability to grade from silo to silo.
This stops double handing through a chaser bin or chemical-treated seed being transported through the farmer’s auger.
“Now I just work from one silo to the next,” Mr Cummins said. “The farmer doesn't have to lift a finger. They just supply the truck to put the seconds into and the job's done.”
The new machine comfortably processes 30 tonnes per hour and includes an imported cascade aspirator which helps remove dust and other foreign objects from the seed.
“It provides much better quality and that reflects on your throughput. I've had other seed graders come and they all can't believe the small amount of dust that's around the machine.”
Other improvements include a patented self-cleaning auger which saves time and stops grain getting wedged in the machine.
“Sometimes we might clean it out five or six times a day and this machine just does it itself. It's fully programmed and the whole thing is run from an iPad.”
Quality seed treatment
One of the key advantages of the new machine is the ability to apply seed treatments to the grain in an effective and consistent manner.
Mr Cummins said other techniques splatter the chemical onto the grain, then the grain goes down a cone around the outside and distributes over a spinning disc.
“The treatment goes into a basket and sprays around in a circular motion and onto the grain,” he said.
While the technique was effective, he was keen to look at other options including spinning the disc faster to provide smaller droplets and greater coverage.
“I started researching and made up my own disc,” Mr Cummins said. “Initially the spray coverage from the disc reduced to less than a full circle as the disc sped up. I came up with a concept where the disc does 2800 rpm and has a 360-degree rotation. We have taken a patent out on this part of the design.”
As part of the process Mr Cummins sent samples to the Syngenta Seedcare™ Institute in Wagga Wagga for analysis.
This includes laboratory analysis of the seed coverage and other benchmarks for quality including dust-off, for environmental and operator peace of mind. The Seedcare™ Institute works closely with Mr Cummins and other seedgraders for quality results when using Syngenta products.
“I’ve used the lab quite often. That’s where the testing is done – it’s a very handy tool. They came back and said the results were the best they had ever seen.”
He said Syngenta staff, the Seedcare™ Institute, and the seed treatment products had been a key part of their business.
“We based our machines around the Syngenta products. From my early days I got really good support from them. I still think they are the best company to deal with.
“I just stuck with the one company because then I have total support and they never did back away from a problem. They always made sure that I was more than happy, and I didn't get burned.”
“The tank's always full of VIBRANCE®,” he said. “There's been a lot of ‘champions’ come and go, but VIBRANCE® really was before its time. It is still the leading product. They've always got their pricing right and they haven't given me a reason to change."
The new machine was first utilised in the 2021 season and is being continually evaluated to further improve its performance in the years to come.
“My average job would be around 100 tonnes and I can now do that quite easily. It is so much quicker, and the farmer gets a much better outcome.”
Pat Cummins is a member of the Independent Associated Seed Graders (IASG). Speak to Pat or your local IASG member about your seed grading needs.
The Klean A Seed machine that has a much quicker throughput and includes design improvements for better quality and convenience.
About Syngenta Australia
Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities. To learn more visit www.syngenta.com.au and www.goodgrowthplan.com