Autonomous sprayer wins coveted Henty Machine of the Year
A ground-breaking machine not only enhancing productivity, precision, and efficiency but also reducing operational costs, overhead expenses, and ensuring the safety of workers has won the coveted 2023 Henty Machine of the Year Award.
The autonomous orchard sprayer is the result of a joint venture between John Deere and GUSS, a California-based technology company, impressing judges with its innovation, design and engineering.
Highly commended was The Shepherd Feedlot Auto Drafter entered by Justin Dunn, of Temora.
A total of 23 machines and equipment at the cutting edge of agricultural technology were showcased in the Henty Machine of the Year.
Announced on the opening day, this award is presented to the most outstanding new piece of agricultural machinery exhibited at the field days.
It was judged by an independent panel of five regional primary producers on Monday (September 18) and presented at the field days opening today (September 19).
Judging criteria included the machine’s purpose and suitability, scope of application, construction (durability and design), ease of maintenance and service, ease of operation and adjustment, availability of parts and overall value for money.
Judge Warren Scheetz said GUSS marked a significant milestone in the journey towards sustainable and intelligent farming practices.
“We selected GUSS for its advancement in autonomous spraying technology with a strong commitment to precision chemical application, increased labour efficiency and employee safety,” Mr Scheetz said.
“The technology of this machine allows for the horticultural industry to apply foliar applications safely and accurately. With reduced labour requirements it can remotely monitor and control.
“The machine was well built and designed while the technology behind it has taken years of research and development.
“All industries in agriculture are struggling for labour and from what we heard today, this is a world-wide trend.
“It is exciting to be able to have the first look at GUSS here at Henty.”
Hamish Ross, Integrated Solutions Manager, Hutcheon & Pearce, said there are about 250 GUSS autonomous sprayers working globally with the machine at Henty one of a few in Australia.
GUSS uses a combination of GPS, LiDAR sensors, and software to guide safely and efficiently though orchards unmanned. Its intentionally low-profile design, measuring 7 metres in length, 1.9 metres in height and 2.29 metres in width, seamlessly allows tree branches to flow over the top.
Equipped with a 2,727-litre tank, a 32-nozzle spray manifold with individual shutoffs, 4-wheel drive and 4-wheel steering, and a 14-hour run time powered by a 400-litre fuel cell and 3.8 litre Cummins diesel engine, GUSS keeps moving row after row, field after field, day or night.
Using the innovative Select SprayTM technology, GUSS identifies the target tree and applies the precise amount of spray required for optimal coverage, irrespective of height or canopy size.
This approach minimises material usage and reduces drift during application. Updates on sprayer information, including position, spray rate, and speed, are available in real time to GUSS operators.
Sheep feedlot and containment specialist Justin Dunn has done it again and come up with The Shepherd Feedlot Auto Drafter, highly commended in the Machine of the Year Award.
Justin, of Temora, was an entrant in last year’s Machine of the Year Award with the Road Runner, an off grid and solar powered loaded automated feeder with online connectivity, and was the winner of the 2018 Henty Agri-Innovator Award.
Justin said the new auto drafter is a system that can weigh and draft sheep in a feedlot continuously without leaving their pens.
“The drafter is installed between two pens so lambs who reach target weight can be drafted to the adjacent pen,” he said.
“This enables lambs to be combined with other lambs of similar weight, reducing stress and shy feeding, and provides continuous data acquisition for marketing and performance.
“This system significantly reduces stress and risk of injury that often reduces growth performance.
“Time and labour are also reduced, and the system captures continuous performance data displayed on your mobile phone or web app.”
Warren Scheetz said the design was impressive for increasing animal welfare and labour efficiency.
“You want the stock to be as stress free as possible to optimise weight gain and this eliminates work for the producer, allowing them to electronically move animals from one pen to another once they reach a certain weight.
“With the potential for a heavy focus on containment feeding over the coming year, this product has a wide scope of application within the sheep industry.”
Mr Scheetz paid tribute to the excellence in design displayed by all entrants, which varied from battery chargers to sprayers and disc chains.
“The competition is very well supported, and we appreciate the interest each year from local and international businesses,” he said.