Mildura Weekly : Friday January 24 2014 Vol 8 No 12
www.milduraweekly.com.au 6 Mildura Weekly – 24/01/14 By BEN PISCIONERI MILDURA-based engineering firm Interlink is taking the farm ma- chinery world by storm, developing a state-of-the art crop sprayer that has some of the biggest farming businesses in the world clambering for a closer look. The company has produced a machine that requires a quar- ter of the power of a traditional unit, slashes fuel consumption by 75 percent, cuts maintenance by a third, is safer, and according to independent testing, does a better job. The breakthrough has attracted the interest of the biggest almond producer in the world, United States-based Paramount Farms, which sent representatives to Mil- dura recently to see the sprayer in action. Adaptable to suit a variety of crops, including grapes, citrus and almonds, the new sprayer has been seven years in development and utilises technology more common- ly seen in aeronautical engineering. In fact, Interlink director, re- searcher and designer, Matt McWil- liams, has been in regular contact with aeronautical engineers as part of the sprayer’s development. Matt explained that the key to more effectively applying chemi- cals to grape, citrus and almond crops is mastering the natural char- acteristics of air flow, as this is the path the chemical will take to the plants. “For years, the industry, includ- ing ourselves, has been working against the natural air curve with our fans, because we try to straight- en the air out, but every time we try to straighten it out, we lose power,” Matt said. “With this latest technology, we’re using the natural air curve. Basically, it means we can put more air out with less power.” As an example, a well known United States-built sprayer uses a 250 horsepower diesel motor to power its spray unit, which uses about 30 litres of fuel per hour. The Interlink sprayer uses a 70 horsepower motor that burns through just seven litres per hour. It also provides significantly more spray coverage to the plant or vine, meaning operators can spray their properties at a higher speed. In one test, a farmer was able to increase from 4km/h to 7km/h, which would almost halve his crop spraying time. Interlink has also done away with the need for PTO (power take off) shafts, which are traditionally used to power farming implements with tractors, instead using hydrau- lics, providing a host of benefits in- cluding increased safety and signifi- cantly reducing vibration, which in turn reduces wear and tear. The new technology has the added benefit of significantly re- ducing spray drift, which is better from both an environmental and economic perspective, cutting wast- age to just 20 percent. “We’re able to be 80 percent ef- ficient with this technology,” Matt said. • Continued Page 17 power its spray unit, which uses Mildura ingenuity taking the world by storm • COPPING A SPRAY: This image graphically illustrates both the scope and intensity of the spray coverage produced by the new Interlink sprayer. • Interlink director, researcher and designer, Matt McWilliams with the latest version of the company’s crop sprayer. Laura Page, Brianne Turk and Samantha Riley present 2PM & 7:30PM MILDURA ARTS CENTRE TICKETS: Adult $25 Concession $20 Family $80 (2 Adults + 2 Children) Mildura Arts Centre (03) 5018 8330 Visitor Information Centre (03) 5018 8376 or online www.milduraartscentre.com.au threeheartsonehome.webs.com SAT 1 FEB Three friends reunite after ten years to perform in their hometown. Come along to a performance filled with song, laughter and friendship.
Friday January 17 2014 Vol 8 No11
Friday January 31 Vol 8 No 13