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Managing weeds on railway lines

| July 4, 2016

The Weedfree-on-Track Spray Train was created with environmental sustainability at the forefront of its design. In an ever demanding market where companies are being driven to reduce their carbon footprint and become ‘greener’, the spray train was designed to not only achieve current demands, but to also be future proof for an ever evolving market. At its core, the spray train sets out to achieve the best possible level of treatment whilst using as little herbicide as possible. We feel that by doing so, we offer an optimal treatment solution to the world’s railways.

The Weedfree-on-Track spray train operating in Belgium.

The Weedfree-on-Track spray train operating in Belgium.

The reductions in herbicide usage are achieved in a number of ways.

Firstly, the spray train uses an identification system to detect where weeds are present on the track bed. Using two high resolution cameras, the system identifies the location of weeds and only applies herbicides to those sections of track. This means that there is very little product wastage because herbicides are only being used on their target areas. Using this system alone, has seen reductions in herbicide usage of over 50% when the train has been introduced to new markets. Additionally, herbicides are not the only products to factor where environmental savings are made. Considering the large quantities of water being used during the treatment process, savings in water that total over half a million litres per treatment can easily be achieved.

Secondly, the system utilises a weed mapping system to drive down unnecessary product usage. Whenever weeds are detected, the train records the density of infestation along with the GPS location. The computer then draws a visual representation of the network according to what has been detected –called a weed map – which is shown in a colour spectrum from light yellow showing light infestation, to dark green showing heavy infestation. These weed maps can be used for a variety of solutions, the most obvious being the planning of future applications…

This is an extract of the full article published in International Pest Control – May/June 2016 issue.

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Author: Jonathan Caine*
*International Project Manager, Weedfreeon-Track Limited.

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Category: Horticulture-Amenity