03 Dec

Darwin’s Barberry Control for Horizons Regional Council

Horizons Regional Council Biosecurity Officer, Robert Bashford, and his contractors have been using various methods including knapsack-spraying to control Darwin’s barberry (Berberis darwinii) in the wetlands of National Park village. It is hard work and they can’t find all the barberry they know is in there.  The safety issues in the wetland are too high to continue with ground methods.  Robert tried a helicopter, but this was overkill for the size of the infestations and the precise spraying required, and it was a bit close to the village. Robert says,

“the detection and control of Darwin’s barberry in these wetlands is a perfect situation for the aerial drone methods Flightworks has developed.”

Flightworks collected high-resolution images by aerial drone across the wetland and searched these for Darwin’s barberry in flower using an automated supervised classification and a visual search.

Darwin’s barberry detected amongst other similar looking weed species (gorse/broom)

Then an aerial spray drone was flown to the barberry waypoints.  Barberry was identified using onboard cameras and then sprayed precisely via a controllable spray wand.  The flight log and control data were captured so that these sites can be inspected again for the next generation of seedlings.  The operation was undertaken as a Permitted Activity under the Horizons One Plan (with relevant consultation) as it is a low volume application more closely related to knapsack spraying than helicopter spraying.

“Flightworks use drone technology to make a significant difference in weed detection and control projects where other tools cannot.  They take a professional approach to the project utilising their ecological, mapping and flying expertise.”

 Robert Bashford (Biosecurity Officer), Horizons Regional Council

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