Seed Flamer wins at Western Australia Innovator of the Year Awards

A new tool that makes native seeds easier to handle has won researchers a top prize at the 2016 WA Innovator of the Year awards. The innovation will transform how vast areas such as mine sites and degraded agricultural lands are revegetated.

A new tool that makes native seeds easier to handle has won researchers from The University of Western Australia and the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority a top prize at the 2016 WA Innovator of the Year awards.

The ‘seed flamer’ won the Mitsubishi Corporation Emerging Innovation Category at the State awards ceremony held last night.

Their innovation will transform how vast areas such as mine sites and degraded agricultural lands are revegetated.

By repeatedly exposing seeds to a flame inside a rotating drum, in a precisely controlled fashion, the fluffy appendages and hairs on the seeds are carefully removed making them much easier to handle.

Dr Andrew Guzzomi, an Assistant Professor in UWA’s School of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, said the fluffy appendages and hairs on wild collected seeds make them bulky to store and transport and they stick together, making them hard to sort and use in direct seeding machinery.

“Removing the appendages enables the application of artificial coatings to seeds to improve germination and allow precision machine sowing.

“Importantly, the exposure of the seeds to the flame is controlled to have the desired result without harming the seeds’ ability to germinate,” he said.

Dr Guzzomi, an agricultural engineer, has been collaborating with Dr Todd Erickson from UWA’s School of Plant Biology and Dr David Merritt, Senior Research Scientist at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority.

The awards are designed to promote and acknowledge the success of Western Australian innovators and provide future opportunities for collaborative research with industry and government.

The $25,000 prize money will be used to explore seed flaming of diverse plant species at a commercial scale in Australia and the USA for revegetation and rangeland management.

The ‘flash flaming’ device has been patented and a partnership to support the commercialisation of the invention is being offered through UWA’s Research Development and Innovation office.

MEDIA REFERENCE

David Stacey (UWA Media and PR Manager)  (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716

Dr Andrew Guzzomi (School of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering)  (+61 8) 6488 3883