Damn you Putin!

5 November 2023 by
Seed Terminator, Kelly Ingram

I was a little surprised to hear recently that some growers are turning off their Seed Terminators and other mills this harvest due to the high fuel price. This reminds me of mate of mine at Uni who spent all his time and money doing up a V8 WB ute, then had no money left for fuel. In his defence, the Holden 308 was one of the thirstiest motors ever built, it seemed to waste most of its energy making sound!

There’s no two ways about it, farming got bloody expensive this year. But is turning off the Terminator a rational decision? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Firstly, the capital cost of the machine is a sunk cost, so there’s nothing to be saved here by turning it off.

That leaves us with the other costs, fuel, wearing parts, maintenance, and any reduction in harvest capacity that the mill may cause.

Kondinin Group reported to run a Seed Terminator will take about an extra 1 litre of fuel per tonne of grain harvested, and the good people at Seed Terminator tell me that 0.5 to 1 litre per tonne is common.

Fuel has gone up roughly $1/litre on farm in the past year or so, increasing the cost of running a Terminator by $0.50 to $1 per tonne of grain harvested. For a 3t/ha wheat crop, the extra fuel cost is $1.50 to $3 per hectare.

What is the full cost of running a Seed Terminator, and what is the full cost saving if you were to turn it off?

Total cost of running a Seed Terminator

For this exercise, I downloaded the cost of harvest weed seed control calculator from the WeedSmart website and updated the figures with the current batshit crazy fertiliser and fuel prices. I assumed fuel of $1.80 per litre (this is net of the 42c/litre fuel rebate), and worked on 2000 hectares of 3t/ha wheat and 500 hectares each of legume and canola yielding 1.6 t/ha each.


Per hectare

Per season

Ownership cost (depreciation and interest)



Wearing parts



Extra fuel



Maintenance (this is a guess)









This example assumes no reduction in harvest capacity as a result of running the Seed Terminator.  If we were to add a 10% reduction in harvest capacity, the cost increases to about $16.50 per hectare.

Therefore, not running the Seed Terminator would save this farmer $5.90 to $10.50 per hectare, or a total of $17,700 to $31,500.

Is it worth spending $12 per hectare (or a little more if harvest capacity is compromised) to destroy 99% of the weed seeds that entered the front of the harvester. If it were a herbicide, this would be considered a bargain.

I believe that it’s worth the expense, but you could argue that I might be biased! Ultimately, it’s up to the grower, what’s important is they fully understand the cost to help make a good decision.

High-capacity screens

If you want to have a bet each way and save some fuel while still killing most of your weed seeds, you can opt for a set of high-capacity screens. These are just like normal Seed Terminator screens, but they are missing the outside screen and take around 20 minutes to swap in. This reduces horsepower, fuel and blockages, but also reduces the ryegrass kill to about 85%.

High fertiliser prices make Seed Terminators cheap

An interesting side note to this discussion that I noticed while using the WeedSmart cost calculator, is that the high fertiliser prices increased the cost of the other harvest weed seed control tools. Knocking up a chaff lining chute in the shed might seem inexpensive, but when we factor in the cost of nutrient removal with this option, it’s now more expensive than a Seed Terminator.

There’s no cost of nutrient removal with a Seed Terminator as all of the residue is spread pretty evenly back over the field.


Nothing is free, what we are looking for is value. If you can pick up around 70 or 80% of the weed seeds in your crop, deliver them into a Seed Terminator, and smash 99% of them, all for about 12 bucks a hectare, that seems pretty good value to me.

Best of luck out there. 

The Terminator Agronomist
Proudly brought to you by Seed Terminator 

Please note this advice is general in nature and not based on your specific circumstances.

Subscribe to The Terminator Agronomist

A monthly email looking past the IBC with a focus on Harvest Weed Seed Control, agronomy & agribusiness

Share this post