Weeds and weed control are major production costs in global agriculture, with increasing challenges associated with herbicide-based management because of concerns with chemical residue and herbicide resistance. Non-chemical weed management may address these challenges but requires the ability to differentiate weeds from crops.
Harvest is an ideal opportunity for the differentiation of weeds that grow taller than the crop, however, the ability to differentiate late-season weeds from the crop is unknown. Weed mapping enables farmers to locate weed patches, evaluate the success of previous weed management strategies, and assist with planning for future herbicide applications. The aim of this study was to determine whether weed patches could be differentiated from the crop plants, based on height differences.
Field surveys were carried out before crop harvest in 2018 and 2019, where a total of 86 and 105 weedy patches were manually assessed respectively. The results of this study demonstrated that across the 191 assessed weedy patches, in 97% of
patches with Avena fatua (wild oat) plants, 86% with Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish) plants and 92% with Sonchus oleraceus L. (sow thistles) plants it was possible to distinguish the weeds taller than the 95% of the crop plants.
Future work should be dedicated to the assessment of the ability of remote sensing methods such as Light Detection and Ranging to detect and map late-season weed species based on the results from this study on crop and weed height differences.
Authors: Nooshin Shahbazi, Ken Flower, Nikolaus Callow, Ajmal Mian, Michael Ashworth, Hugh Beckie