PeterpoinT a win for ingenuity
Second-place winners in the $10,000 GRDC eureka Schools Prize for Agricultural Journalism this year were Cassandra MacDonald and Tess Dillon, year 11 students at Hurlestone Agricultural College in Glenfield, NSW. In their entry, published below, Cassandra and Tess wrote about Roma grower and inventor Peter Thompson who developed the PeterpoinT, a new planting point. The GRDC"s sponsorship of the award was aimed at fostering closer ties between regional towns and cities and their surrounding agriculture by encouraging students to seek out challenges and opportunities in the grains industry.
Eureka prizewinners with GRDC chairman Terry Enright: from left, Nicola Bell, first place; Tess Dillon and Cassandra MacDonald, second place; and Thomas Christie, fourth place. Third-placed Sam Holland was unable to attend. Photo: Brad Collis
By Cassie MacDonald and Tess Dillon
With the results in just three to seven days, it is no wonder that farmers across NSW and Queensland are amazed with Roma-based farmer Peter Thompson"s innovative new design, the PeterpoinT.
After becoming fed up with finding nothing available that suited wide-ranging soil types and conditions, Mr Thompson set to work to create a planting point better suited to the needs of its performance.
His intentions were to create a point that would penetrate the soil more easily, would allow planting seed deep to moisture in dry times, would cause minimal smearing of the seed trench and provide good soil tilth around the seed in all conditions, thus aiding quick germination.
"I felt that there had to be a better way," Mr Thompson said. In 1994, with no rain to plant on but plenty of soil moisture still below the surface, 100 days after the last rain, Mr Thompson made his first points and managed to establish one of the only wheat crops in the area that year. "Necessity was the mother of invention," he said.
The PeterpoinT has a unique design, which creates far less reliance on complicated and expensive depth control equipment. It is also cheaper than many traditional points because its design requires far less tungsten for protection against wear.
Another advantage is that it allows farmers to plant at the optimum time for any given crop much more often. The spearpoint design allows the low draft to move away topsoil, allowing seed to be placed directly into the moisture. The lower draft also is lighter on the pocket with lower fuel consumption.
Mr Thompson made his first points and then progressively modified them through trial and error as he watched them working in the soil. After successful trials, he began selling the points to a few neighbouring farmers, who reported similar success.
"At this point in time, I realised I had invented something good, so I applied for and was granted a Registered Design," he said.
For almost five years he then tried to get tillage manufacturers to take on the design, but could not raise any interest. He then kept using the point to his own great success in his operation and occasionally sold a few locally.
About five years ago, Mr Thompson eventually found a manufacturer, Bob Steggal, of CastPoints in Toowoomba, who was keen to work with him, especially because the design came from the farm, rather than an engineer"s drawing board. The point was converted into a cast design and a patent was applied for on the resulting product.
Mr Thompson has described the PeterpoinT as a tool that lifts and places the soil from the furrow rather than throwing it on top of the seeds in the next furrow. This creates a good soil tilth around the seedling as it grows, making a "protective environment" - keeping out frost, heat and wind.
"The protective environment creates a microclimate in the furrow, protecting the seedling until it comes through, and is well established," he said.
The PeterpoinT is suitable for use in virtually any soil type and in any region of Australia and can be fitted, using adaptors, to most tined planting equipment.
The PeterpoinT can be used on a wide range of soils and conditions, giving farmers a much greater chance of achieving a vigorous and evenly-established crop leading up to a better harvest.
GRDC Research Code AUS00001
For more information: www.peterpoint.com.au