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An Australian farmer has designed a mobile fire lighter that can be used for fast and efficient burning-off.

Herbicide resistance on our 2200ha grain growing property at Wongan Hills W.A. was first identified and named such in 1993.Even back then one of the number of strategies our local Dept of Ag suggested was trying to burn narrow windrows. Varying results back then made me an on and off adopter. As with all grain growers, we’ve adopted new herbicides and gradually  seen their efficacy deteriorate.

The Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) whose birthplace was the School of Plant Biology at UWA have, in the last 5 years spearheaded the range of strategies to combat our resistance problems. This has been backed up with comprehensive data collection identifying how farmers can drive down resistant weed seed numbers to very low levels in the space of 3 to 6 years. In W.A. AHRI have been on a crusade to have growers adopt one of the Cremate,Catch or Crush techniques employed at harvest time. Wider  and bigger horsepower harvesters have had a contribution to achieving more consistent positive results when adopting either of the above strategies.

This initiative from AHRI has formed the backdrop for the adoption of the Accufire Broadacre Firelighter I invented over ten years ago. I had a near miss accident in about 2000. After that I set about making yet another firelighter, as all farmers have done. This time the requirements were to be able to turn the unit on and off from the cab. The fuel source had to be at the back of the tray, away from me. I wanted to have the window up and the air con on and I certainly didn’t want to hold on to a burning lance anymore, with the feeling of my arm about to drop off.

After a couple of years I felt I had produced the firelighter with all the attributes I was after. I only ever expected the unit would be used on my property. Two neighbours asked I make them a unit, followed by four others from around town. At this point AHRI’s message was starting to gain traction in W.A. In 2008 I made 10 units in my shed just to see if there was any interest. They sold in 3 weeks. In 2009 I stepped up the fabrication process and made 100, all sold in 5 weeks. At this point I thought people might be interested in my invention.  Now,  9 out of 10 of my nearest neighbours have purchased a unit, with some coming back for a second unit. This word of mouth advertising and “nesting” type adoption has been repeated all over W.A.s agricultural areas.

The whole process of refining an invention and marketing it Australia wide, and all still from the farm shed, has been a challenging and stimulating experience. The next step is to drive its cost of production down to get it on the shelves of the rural merchants.