Thesis: Weed mapping using remote sensing
Weeds have a major impact on crop yields and effective weed management plays a significant role in crop production. Farmers aim to minimise herbicide use and maximise crop yields, so that they have more profitable production and, less environmental effects. Currently farmers uniformly treat whole fields and it would be beneficial if they could locate weed patches and just treat those. Remote sensing, processing the spatial data and mapping the weed patches for the early detection of weeds (before the crop canopy closes) in crop fields has opened new horizons in weed management. Late weed detection may also possible using distance measurements to locate weeds that grow above the crop canopy, yet little research has been done on this aspect. Weed mapping can help farmers to apply site specific weed management, which may include variable application of both herbicides and non-herbicidal weed control tactics. Therefore farmers can overcome weeds with minimal amount of herbicides and associated expenses, as well as reduce the risk of weeds developing herbicide resistance. This study aims to map infestations of late weeds in crops using data collected from ground survey as well as images captured from drones. Weed surveys will be used for ground truth the remote sensing data.
Why my research is important
The wheat-belt of Western Australia is a large area, so any improvement in weed control, reduction in costs or decreased environmental impacts will have a great impact. Reducing herbicide usage and maintaining the quality and quantity of yield, with less health and environmental affects is a challenge. Monitoring weeds infestation annually and creating historical data set can be a key factor to reduce herbicide usage. Mapping weeds based on the historical data can help farmers to assess the capability of past and current weed management strategies and calculate the amount of optimum chemical requirements of spraying. Also it can help agronomists to understand weeds population and verify models predictions.
It is critical to reduce the cost of weed control along with minimising the environmental effects. Due to the large size of wheat farms in Western Australia and the reliance on machinery and technology, rather than hand labour, weed mapping using remote sensing can be a practical method to benefit farmers and the agricultural industry.