“Smart” Spray Wand and Weed Treatment Time Prediction Model: Two New Weed Control Tools for Wild Land Managers

By Bryan Dayton PMG Environmental, Ralph Whitesides Utah State University and Scott Pratt PMG Environmental

Published in the Fall 2014 issue of TechLine Invasive Plant News, Prairie & Grasslands AND Western Range & Wildlands Editions


“Smart” Spray Wand

Millions of dollars are spent managing invasive weeds on public and private lands each year. Although new weed management tools and technology have advanced for precision agriculture, those for wild land (grazing land or natural areas) have lagged. In 2013, Jardyne Technologies developed the “Smart” spray wand, a precision tool for treating invasive plants on wild land sites.

The “Smart” spray wand technology has a GIS1/computer/flow meter and a quick connect for use with any type of spray system including back pack, ATV/UTV, or truck reel. The wand records the GPS2 location, herbicide flow, application time, and associated data of each treatment spray point. Addition of the “Smart” wand technology adds only 6.5 ounces of weight to a traditional spray wand.

This new technology can simplify invasive weed management by:

  • Saving inventory time and money
  • Increasing ecological, treatment, and funding accountability
  • Justifying funding requests
  • Streamlining data flow for cooperative management
  • Increasing information for planning and management
  • Expanding research possibilities in wildland weed control

 

Treatment Time Model Developed to Support Weed Management Planning

Wild land invasive weed treatment bids are based primarily on acreage or hours but can be influenced by variables that increase treatment time and cost. Often neither the land manager contracting the treatment nor the contractor has a clear idea of the amount of time that will be involved in a weed control project. This makes it difficult to develop an accurate budget or bid for invasive weed control projects.

The “Smart” spray wand’s ability to collect valuable application information led to a partnership between the Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate at Utah State University, Providia Management Group (PMG) and Jardyne Technologies. The purpose of the partnership was to determine if a treatment cost model could: 1) establish an accurate standard for contractors and land managers, 2) assist in planning and managing limited treatment resources, and 3) justify funding requests and expenditures.

A study was designed to collect and evaluate invasive weed treatment data over multiple locations, weed species, and terrains to develop a treatment time calculation model. The model is based on four primary variables: 1) weed density, 2) slope, 3) land cover, and 4) weed visibility. Other variables were also evaluated in the model development.

In 2013, PMG’s backpack crews treated invasive weeds on hundreds of acres in Utah and Idaho. Using “Smart” spray wands and backpack equipment, PMG gathered millions of data points including a GPS point each time a weed was sprayed. Each data point included the GPS location, herbicide flow, and application time. Slope, treatment time per area, and weed density were determined to create the model.

Field data were used to develop a treatment time model based on weed density and other variables (slope, land cover, and weed visibility). See examples in the table and figure below. The complete model and findings from the field data are scheduled to be published spring of 2015. 

For additional information regarding the treatment time model and the Jardyne “Smart” spray wand go to Jardyne.com. (Website will be available soon).