Satellite helps weed surveys
“However with mesquite, because it is defoliated, it’s not reflecting the infrared as much as the coexisting healthy vegetation and this was pronounced in four of the satellite’s eight bands, so that was how we could differentiate it.
“It worked better than we expected.”
Dr Robinson said using new-generation satellites to detect light reflection from plants was comparable in cost to standard airborne surveys, but had added versatility.
“Surveys have been mainly airborne until now and the downside to that is generally poorer coverage or additional pre-processing to stitch images together,” he said.
“The satellite can provide much greater coverage and it can be tasked to capture imagery very rapidly — and you don’t need a pilot.”
Dr Robinson said the technology could be used as a monitoring tool by repeatedly acquiring images of the same area to see how much it changed and how much weeds were invading the area over time.
He said the next step was expanding the research to a wider area and testing its effectiveness on other plants.
“I think it’s transferrable to many other different species,” he said.
“We would like to look at the entire station and also see if it’s transferrable to other weeds of national significance in the Pilbara, such as Parkinsonia.”