We chat with local inventor, Martin Hazenveld, who has revolutionised how property owners deal with weeds.
> You came to Australia from the Netherlands in 1982. Was the move a big decision?
Dissatisfied with living in the Netherlands, in 1981 I made an orientation trip to Australia, looking for a better place to live. We decided that Australia was the place to bring up our three children and we arrived here in 1982. The move was still a big decision, as we left all the family and friends behind and there was no guarantee that we would be able to cope with such a huge change. In the family unit, if only one person is unhappy and wants to go back, the problem starts – as some migrants have experienced. Fortunately, our children settled very well and did not want to live in Holland any more. My son told me after 12 months, “Dad, the best decision you ever made was to bring us to Australia.”
> After owning a cattle farm for many years you developed the “Swingwiper”. Where did the inspiration for the Swingwiper come from?
Although initially we settled in Sydney, my wife and I moved to Port Macquarie 10 years ago. We also own a rural property near Mt Seaview and it is with the “bush farmer” experience that the idea, as well as the need, for the Swingwiper came about. Having said that, the original idea for the swing away movement (which forms an integral par of the Swingwiper) came from an idea I incorporated in a special machine for wood working when I was 17 years old.
> Tell us a little about the Swingwiper.
The Swingwiper is a rotating weed wiper that is completely different from a wick wiper in performance. The Swingwiper has a rotating carpet roll saturated with, say, RoundUp, brushing chemicals only onto the weeds. So far nothing new, but the Swingwiper is able to operate very low to the ground even when there are rocks, stumps, branches etc. The rotating carpet roll simply swings away and can even “free wheel” over the obstacles, saving the carpet and carpet roll. Under these conditions, the wiper is able to eradicate low to the ground weeds which existing wipers miss and is making chemicals more effective on taller weeds. But that’s not all, the Swingwiper is the only weed wiper on the market with a variable, calibrated output re-adjustable for higher or lower speeds at the push of a button. The results achieved with the Swingwiper amazes even us every time we do a demonstration site.
> You appeared on the ABC’s “New Inventors” program last year?
The Swingwiper featured on the ABC New Inventors program last year. It was a very good experience, as it was well organised. A crew was sent out to take footage at the Swingaway factory and they flew my wife and me to the studios in Sydney for the filming of the program. It has been great publicity and many people have seen the program and still talk about it.
> Did you always know that you would have a passion for designing machinery?
I have always been interested in machinery and designed my first specialist machine when I was 14. I kept designing special machines for wood working and had to redesign and rebuild many after a big fire destroyed everything. Then a changeover to fully automated plastic injection moulding (high speed) led to the design and manufacturing of new products and production systems. In 1992 I finished a big overseas project and decided to “go bush”… but the poor performance of a particular weed wiper haunted me. This ultimately gave rise to the Swingwiper.
> You also have a strong passion for the enviroment …
Nature and the environment have always been a passion, and I love being on the land, surrounded by paddocks and the bush. Having a strong interest in preserving nature was also a driving force behind the design of a weed eradication method that uses less chemicals, and uses them without dripping chemicals everywhere – a key feature of the Swingwiper.
> What does the Future hold for you and the swingwiper?
Over the next couple of years we are looking to expand into the national market, and ultimately look to license the Swingwiper globally – after all, weeds are a global problem and every farmer needs a weed wiper that works effectively, efficiently and … keeps working.
> Thanks for your time Martin.