XAG spraying drones combating invasive weeds in Australia

06-05 | Updated on 11-06 | | |
Photo: XAG
Photo: XAG

XAG spraying drones are used to curb the spread of African Lovegrass in Australia. Since March 2021, trials are conducted to examine the effectiveness of drones on precision spraying and revegetation.

African Lovegrass (ALG) is one of the invasive weed species originated from South Africa and introduced to Australia in the 20th century. They can rapidly take over a pasture and render the land worthless by wiping out native plants and animals.

Minimise use of herbicides

This March, XAG Australia has established partnership on an African Lovegrass (ALG) control program with the Australian registered charity Upper Snowy Landcare. A fleet of XAG Agricultural Drones were deployed to spray the weeds and seeding the ALG-infested pasture in inaccessible areas. The project aims to leverage autonomous robots to minimise the use of herbicide, as well as restoring a healthy landscape against the regrowth of ALG.

Trial sites

Three trial sites, heavily invaded by ALG, have been set up in the Monaro region of New South Wales, Australia. Drone pilots from XAG mapped the fields on the smartphone with a remote sensing drone to identify all patches of ALG.

At the first site, XAG agricultural drones loaded with herbicides were used to selectively spray isolated patches of African Lovegrass. The second site was treated by drones spraying between rows of tree plantation to remove weeds that would otherwise compete for water and nutrients.

At the third site where ALG was mechanically scalped, drones fitted with a special broadcast attachment evenly spread native grass seeds and shrubs to revegetate the bare ground. This is to help establish healthy pastures and further suppress the regrowth of hardy weeds.

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XAG agricultural drone seeding degraded pasture in Australia. - Photo: XAG

XAG agricultural drone seeding degraded pasture in Australia. – Photo: XAG

“These trials demonstrate how drones can be used in difficult, inaccessible areas where traditional vehicles or helicopters are not suited,” said Margaret Mckinnon, Chair of Upper Snowy Network.

Outcomes

In trials with African Lovegrass, XAG’s agricultural drones carried a 16L liquid tank and flew very low to accurately spray the selected target area in appropriate doses. Only patches infested with lovegrass were sprayed to cut down the use of herbicides. Outcomes will be measured in terms of ALG regrowth and vegetation recovery rates with on-ground surveys over the ensuing six months.

Also read: Drone spraying taking off in Australia

Claver
Hugo Claver Web editor for Future Farming