Weeds are an undesirable invasive plant that grows in gardens and fields. They compete against crops for light, nutrients, space and water. They are a common occurrence reproducing at a prolific rate adversely affecting the growth of nearby crops. Weeds can harbour pests and introduce plant diseases, which degrade the quality of crops and can be harmful to livestock.
Typically, weeds produce a large numbers of seeds to assist their spread. Weeds are some of the most resilient plants having excellent characteristics to survive and reproduce. In many environments, they are commonly the first plant to colonise and dominate an area.
Throughout the world, weeds are spreading faster than they can be controlled and management of this undesirable plant is both time consuming and resource intensive.
At Harper Adams University, research is being conducted into methods and techniques to control and eradicate unwanted weeds. One such technical approach is the use of a camera-guided laser to eradicate weeds by heating the top (meristem) of a weed. A prototype device has been developed using an AI algorithm to identify different types of weeds and direct a laser using a high-speed camera to target weeds growing amongst the crops.