This is becoming a more common sight in Australian agriculture as farmers turn to the WA-made Reefinator to rehabilitate rocky country that is usually left untouched.
WA farmers have an opportunity to secure a Reefinator before the end of this month.
But they will be competing with South Australian farmers who have recently increased enquiry.
According to Rocks Gone sales manager Darren Smith, there is a limited number of Reefinators available that can be delivered on-farm by June 30 to qualify for tax deductions for the 2018-19 financial year.
“We’ve had a big year in sales and it is now very common to hear the term ‘reefinated’ as a recognised practice in Australian farming,” Mr Smith said.
“Our biggest growth area has been South Australia, particularly in the high rainfall areas of the Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas.
“Guys are getting rid of mainly limestone and bringing land back to reach its full potential in terms of crop yields.
A close-up of a digging tooth attached to a flat shank in a box frame. The shank is angled to promote upward movements of soil and rocks to fall in front of the rock roller.
“Last year, for example, some of the reefinated country produced exceptional yields where good rainfall was recorded.
“I’ve seen land go from nothing to three or four tonnes a hectare after it has been reefinated but overall, most feedback I get from owners is at least a tonne better than their average yield.
“From a return-on-investment viewpoint, the Reefinator is a popular pick with many bank managers.
“We have a wealth of stories from owners and farmers who have used the machine in areas of their farms they never touched before.
“They would just go around rocky outcrops and forget about that land for cropping.
“Now owners are saying to me they are getting amazing yields and are somewhat gob-smacked that the land is so productive.
“We generally find that’s the case because these rocky outcrops mainly occur on hill slopes where farmers discover they’ve got really good soil.”
Since former Yuna farmer Tim Pannell debuted the machine in 2014 and formed a company called Rocks Gone, the Reefinator has enjoyed an exponential rise in popularity throughout Australia.
Made under licence by Cutts Engineering, Manjimup, the Reefinator is designed to dig up common laterite rock or limestone and crush it, to create topsoil which can be sown to crop.
It has a working width of three metres.
From the rear, the drawbar-mount Reefinator looks like a land roller, but it’s when you take a look at the front of the machine that you gain a better understanding of how it works.
A total of 10 heavy duty ripping teeth are attached to wide individual flat shanks in box frames with the shanks designed with a cutting edge to promote the upwards movement of soil and rocks, cut into by the ripping teeth.
“It works like a cheese grater peeling off material,” Mr Smith said.
“Depending on the rock profile it generally takes about three passes to complete the job.
“The first pass scores and weakens the rock, the second pass scores and crushes and the third pass pulverises and levels.”
Weight is a big part of the operation in conjunction with a working speed of about 10 kilometres an hour, which means you can complete a hectare an hour, employing three passes.
“When the roller is filled with water, we’re talking about an all-up weight for the machine of more than 21 tonnes,” Mr Smith said.
“The rock roller also was specially built with deeper ribs to enhance resistance pressures to be able to crack and pulverise the rocks.”
The ripping tynes also have been designed to work at different depths – down to 230 millimetres for softer rocks and shorter for harder rocks.
More information: Darren Smith 0499 866 813.