Development of a Weed Management farmOS module?

Hi all,

Just putting my fantasies about weed mapping in farmOS out there - I am curious to know if anyone else would find this kind of system useful. I would really like to be able to track the location, condition, treatment, and date of weed observation and related tasks within farmOS. Such a framework could be used for the tracking of valued species as well.

As a basic functionality it would be good to be able to precisely record the location of weeds and this would be most viable through a mobile app that could record a GPS co-ordinate as well as photos from the camera. It would be important to be able to classify the observation by plant type, maturity, as well as a size estimate.

In terms of in-the-paddock features it would be nice to have access to some customized information about the plant. So I might develop my own weed database that incorporates the scientific details about a plant including ID photos, as well as notes about how the plant appears in the context of my farm/locality. It would be fabulous to be able to whip out the phone, take a snap of a weed and record an observation along the lines of:

“chooks have actually almost wiped out this infestation”
“new shoots emerging despite goat impact for 3 months”
“this is a one new, probably came in with feed from the new supplier”
“Greg’s home remedy killed everything but the desired plant”
“bracken fern reemerging”

It would be important to be able to link such observations to prior observations at a later date (when one is in front of a computer) as so many weed observations occur in the course of doing something else. Having to search and link prior observations at the moment of noticing it is likely to fall under the ‘to fiddly, will come back later’-never happens category.

In terms of dedicated weed mapping missions, a necessary feature of an app would be the ability to swipe through photos (perhaps catagorised as seed head, flower, leaf, root system etc) of your weed database to to id/discern plants in the paddock - indeed a category of ‘red herrings’ may be useful - plants that are not weeds but that are easily mistaken as them.

On the website end, it would be desirable to outline management plans that are linked to the calendar. For example, a reminder to move the goats onto an area thistles frequently appear to ensure flowers are dealt with before turning to seed. It would also be great to be able to view weed maps that progress over time with the capacity to differentiate weed species by marker colour/icon and a ‘show only x’ feature. Clicking on a marker would ideally bring up a photo and some critical data without needing to go to a new page, to assist rapid in identification of the correct/intended observation.

All of this functionality would be equally applicable to the preservation and enhancement of desirable species - the same processes could be used to monitor and record preservation tasks for plants of that are of environmental significance - plants that encourage desirable species of insects/birds, have specific soil enhancing qualities, are on endangered lists and so forth.

Love to hear other people’s thoughts… is it a pipe-dream? Does anyone else think they would find this useful?

Cheers,

Spike

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Hi @spikusmax - I love these ideas. And you can probably do a lot of what you want in farmOS already. I can also think of a few next steps to make it easier in the future…

First, I’d probably track the weeds as Planting assets. That will allow you to organize all your Observation logs around a particular weed, and give them a location/geometry which can be updated with future logs. Observations can be used to define location in this way already: https://farmos.org/guide/location/

However, I could foresee ongoing changes/additions to the geometry being a little tedious at the moment. For example, if you had a Planting that represents a specific species of weed, and you discover that it has spread, you would need to create a new observation log, copy the geometry from the old one, and then modify it. This is the kind of thing that could benefit from a dedicated Field Kit module that streamlines the process, perhaps (cc @jgaehring).

As for a weed database, there is some work happening in the OpenTEAM project to develop a plant database that farmOS can pull info from. I’m not sure if there are plans to include weeds in the database at this time, however.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this as well! It’s really not that different from other farmOS use-cases around management of perennial plantings.

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I think that could be very useful for trying different methods for weed control.
Record a big patch of thistles, split it in 3 or more parts and use cover crops, soil cultivation or other methods. Track the weed control methods and days. Check back 6 or 12months later to see in what areas the patch has been reduced.

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Hi @mstenta,

I did give it a good shot a couple of years back, and yes the capacity is already there to store the data. It’s just that the workflow is so different. Crop management begins with planning and intention but weed management is reactive, with the hope that with enough data tracking over time will enable preventative decision making.

The other issue is that weed management deals in small areas that are information dense (e.g 3 sqm with 15 types of weeds at any given time point) as opposed to large areas that are information sparse as is the case with crops ( e.g. 3 acres with 1-3 types of plants at any given time point).

I wonder whether it may be better to present this type of dense data with heat-maps rather than area geometry? Instead of having an area that contains “thistles” one could add points for the estimated number of plants (there would need to be the capacity to ‘bulk add/distribute’ within a defined area), that would allow for both the mass invasions as well as tracking individual plants that pop up in the middle of a paddock (so one can tell in 12 months time whether not getting it before it went to seed was the disaster one feared).

I do think that a custom interface to the weed data, one that has well thought out map viewing controls would be essential to the usability/usefulness. E.g. show all instances of ‘thistle’ on farm for the date range xyz; show all instances of ‘thistle’ that do not have a ‘management’ log attached for the date range xyz; show all instances of ‘thistle’ for the past 10 years with colour gradient from light to dark (oldest to newest).

I wish I had the skill to contribute more than just fiddly feature requests!

Cheers,

Spike

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