Weed roller prevents spray drift

WEED ROLLER: Wattle Range Council mechanics, Andrew Street and Tim Whennen shown with their new invention on railway tracks where it will be ensuring spray drift onto vines does not occur.

Kathy Gandolfi

SPRAY drift onto vineyards adjoining the new Penola to Coonawarra Rail Trail will be avoided by a new invention created by Wattle Range Council’s mechanical staff.

With the Penola/Coonawarra area’s fame for its wine grapes, ongoing Council maintenance of the new rail trail – being constructed along a disused railway corridor which cuts through vineyards between the two towns and beyond – had to be mindful of the vineyards.

With conventional weed spraying methods deemed unsuitable along the rail trail, due to the high potential for spray to drift onto the close-by grape vines, Council’s mechanical staff put their heads together to solve the dilemma.

The result is a rolling applicator which works by having the chemicals soak onto a sponge around a roller which is then towed along the railway line to apply the chemical by rolling it direct onto weeds at ground level eliminating the need to spray from above.

Council’s Director of Engineering Services, Peter Halton said the new invention was a bespoke build.

“It’s not one we could get off the shelf, it is a one of a kind developed internally,” he said.

He said the machine’s invention was inspired by the rail trail and so it’s wheels were designed to accommodated the railway line, but could be swapped with conventional tyres to enable the machine’s use elsewhere if required.

“We can see this having use in other areas too, in organic farming areas, for example.”

Mr Halton said the new machine had already been used on the rail trail and it has proved to be effective and quick.

“With the vineyards so close, we might have had to apply sprays by hand, with weed wands which would have been slow, but this new machine is so much quicker and effective,” he said praising the inventors, Council mechanics Andrew Street and Tim Whennen.

“This is a prime example of the skills we have in our team; they have had to think outside the square and came up with this innovative and cost effective solution to the challenge.”