Using GPS for Weed Control in Brisbane, Australia
Brisbane is Australia's third largest city and the state capital of Queensland. It has an abundance of beautiful bushland and natural waterways—environmental assets that need protecting. The Brisbane City Council has a number of programs and policies in place to help protect the environment and to ensure that it is preserved for future generations.
One component of the Brisbane City Council's bid to protect the environment is the use of GPS for weed control. Staff from the Vegetation Treatment Services department are using the Trimble GPS Pathfinder® Pro XRS system to obtain accurate geographic locations of weeds, which assist them with the development of pest management plans.
During vegetation surveys the GPS Pathfinder Pro XRS is used to capture the location data of each group of weeds as well as any attribute information. Attributes are descriptive details such as weed maturity, size, and whether it is in seed. The location data and attributes are loaded into digital cadastral maps to help the Brisbane City Council plan which weed control method is the most suitable for the area. There are various methods of weed eradication such as slashing, spraying, digging out, or burning. The method used depends on the surrounding area, the season, or life cycle of the plant. Once the form of eradication has been determined, the GPS Pathfinder Pro XRS system enables the field staff to easily navigate back to each weed cluster that needs to be destroyed. The system's navigation function enables this task to be performed quickly, minimizing the time spent locating the weeds.
Currently, eight staff in the Vegetation Treatment Services department are trained to use the GPS Pathfinder Pro XRS, and the Brisbane City Council has plans to run training programs for up to 30 people. In addition, they are looking to expand the use of GPS. Plans include the maintenance of various landscape assets, mapping out pathways or firebreaks in bushland areas, and accurately measuring areas to determine the amount of mulch required.
For Rodney Wood, a technical consultant at the Brisbane City Council, the main reasons for choosing the GPS Pathfinder Pro XRS were the submeter accuracy and its backpack, which makes it ideal for working out in the field. He likes the handheld TSC1 data collector as he finds it fits comfortably in his hand, is easy to use, and navigating around the software is a simple as using the arrow key. Another factor that contributed to Brisbane City Council's decision to purchase the GPS Pathfinder Pro XRS was the ability to choose between using satellite differential for inland work, and beacon for coastal operations.