With increasing labour shortages and efficiency challenges an automated sprayer combating these issues took out machine of the year at Henty Machinery Field Days on Tuesday.
The GUSS, Global Unmaned Spraying Unit, is a joint venture between GUSS Automation and John Deere, and is manufactured in California, USA.
A total of 23 machines and equipment were entered with judges impressed by the sprayers innovation, design and engineering.
The GUSS uses a combination of GPS, LiDAR sensors, and software to guide safely and efficiently through orchards unmanned.
Hutcheon and Pearce sales and marketing manager, Andrew Watt, said the machine was released in Australia by John Deere last year with about 10 currently in the market and strong interest with orders rolling in.
Mr Watt said there is three different versions of the GUSS, including the winning machine, a mini-GUSS for narrower rows and viticulture, as well as a herbicide GUSS with a sandspray camera technology to be able to spray in between rows.
The GUSS also features smart apply technology on the nozzles which use the light from either side of the machine to map the density of the canopy only spray for the density as well as turning off when there's no tree.
Mr Watt said this was a huge saving for growers and one of the main benefits of the sprayer.
"What we've seen from demonstrations and particularly the smart apply technology on the blast sprayer itself, the savings in chemical, the savings in manpower and knowing the job is being done to the best of its ability and that job assurity is key," he said.
"More than that being able to take the data that is being captured from this, particularly the smart apply side of it that can map tree health because it's looking at density and you can come back and fix issues which previously would have been relying on workers to mark the tree to come back."
It was the current challenges with labour and increasing costs that inspired the machine.
"If labour was easy to come by then a lot of these technologies wouldn't be around but that's what is essentially driving innovation in ag at the moment is labour and challenges of inputs, costs of chemicals, costs of fuels, costs of labour," he said.
"That's where this was born from."
Hutcheon and Pearce integrated solutions manager, Hamish Ross, said the biggest thing was the savings with labour, allowing growers to get more done in the same time.
"Basically you go from six or eight people back to two - one monitoring via the laptop and one running a nurse truck at the end of runs coming along and filling it up," he said.
Judge Warren Scheetz said the GUSS marked a significant milestone in the journey towards sustainable and intelligent farming practices.
"We've selected GUSS for its advancement in autonomous spraying technology with a strong commitment to precision chemical application, increased labour efficiency and employee safety," he said.
The highly commended machine of the year was awarded to Justin Dunn, Temora, for The Shepherd Feedlot auto Drafter.
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