Fight Against Weeds goes Hi-tech | WWF New Zealand

Fight Against Weeds goes Hi-tech

Posted on
31 March 2015
With weeds in New Zealand costing billions to control and often causing irreversible damage to ecosystems, the University of Otago is bringing the war on weeds into the hi-tech space with help from a Conservation Innovation $5,000 grant from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Using the leaf shape recognition technology in the Flora Finder mobile application, users will soon be able to instantly identify problem weed species just by taking photographs using the camera on their smart phones and devices. Up to 80 of the most common weed species will be included in the app.
“We are always looking for new ways to make conservation easier for everyone to participate in. This app caught our attention because it will provide instant ID of our worst weeds and encourage action before they get out of control,” said Michele Frank, Community Conservation Coordinator for WWF.
Targeted at identifying weeds earlier, Flora Finder - WEED solves the problem of users not knowing which weedy plant they are looking at and how to deal with it.

“Even if the app can’t identify the weed, Flora Finder - WEED aims to have the capacity for users to attach unidentified photographs of weeds to an email which could be sent to local experts for identification. In essence Flora Finder – WEED becomes a citizen science application” said Graham Strong, commercialisation manager with Otago Innovation Limited.
With $5,000 in support from the WWF combined with the technical expertise of the Flora Finder partners (Otago Innovation Ltd, the University of Otago Botany Department and MEA mobile), Flora Finder – WEED is expected to be available to the public by October 2015.


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