02 Feb

Weed Control: Ground-based, abseil, helicopter, or drone? 

Have some out-of-control weeds and wondering how best to attack them?

There are a number of weed control methods out there. The trick is to choose the most effective method for your project – and it could be that you need a combination of methods to achieve comprehensive weed control.

So let’s take a look at the options and the advantages of each weed control method.

Ground-based weed control

Ground weed control has a major cost advantage if the weeds can be safely and efficiently accessed. Methods include drilling, cut/paste, knapsack, or a hose or boom on a vehicle or boat.

There are advantages in being able to directly identify and target weeds from non-target plants, and find weeds hiding in places that may be unseen from the air.

However not all sites have easy access via the ground which is the limitation of this method.

Abseil weed control

Abseiling is suitable for accessing steep areas where there is good rope fixing points above.

The key advantage to abseiling is being able to closely investigate areas inaccessible from the air. Abseiling is ideal for detecting and accessing weeds that may be hiding behind other plants and therefore not detectable from above. If weed control in steep areas requires cutting/pasting then this method is a great solution.

Helicopter weed control

Helicopters are the best tool for spraying large areas of weeds efficiently, especially in areas inaccessible for efficient ground control. The ability to access remote areas across a large landscape is the most significant advantage of using a helicopter.

Using a helicopter for aerial application is much faster than ground work or aerial drones over a large area. Thus larger areas can be covered with greater economy.

Aerial drone weed control

Operator safety is a major advantage of using aerial drones over helicopter or abseil methods where people are in the air.  Aerial drones are also advantageous where access is difficult or dangerous on foot (e.g. cliffs, geothermal, wetlands, or when wasps are present).

Aerial drones can also access some places that other methods (including helicopters) cannot access at all. Drones can therefore help detect and control the last weed populations where eradication is the goal.

Wand Weed Spray from Aerial Drone


Aerial spray drones can also record GPS waypoints to pinpoint weeds that have been sprayed. This allows for accurate and efficient re-visiting of sites for weed control and monitoring. The spray techniques precisely spray the target while avoiding damage to sensitive areas.

Drones are much quieter and less intrusive than helicopters when noise and disturbance is an issue.

With a relatively limited payload capacity, spray drones are suited to smaller scale operations, and are often restricted to flying within line-of-sight of the operator. However, drones can efficiently access weeds that are scattered across a difficult site.

How will you target weeds?

As you can see, there are many options.

In many cases, you may want to undertake the easily accessible or broadacre weed control method first, and then see what remains and utilise an aerial drone for eradication.

Call me (Hamish) on 07 394 4394 if you have any questions about this article, or contact us if you’d like to discuss your project requirements.