Japanese Knotweed: An End to the Nightmare?

June 23, 2010

It is dreaded by homeowners and commercial property managers alike– and can cause millions of pounds worth of irretrievable damage to homes and properties across the world. But the knotweed nightmare could be coming to an end, thanks to research being conducted at the University of Glamorgan.

A team at the University’s Biological Research Unit, is using Definiens Imaging Developer software in combination with very high spatial resolution colour infra-red and visible band aerial photography and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to detect Japanese Knotweed.

Professor Denis Murphy who is supervising the project said, “Japanese Knotweed is amongst the most aggressive and invasive plants in the world. It can grow up to 1m within the space of just three weeks. Satellite imagery can more accurately monitor the spread of the plant and can pinpoint areas where it is likely to grow, enabling it to be treated more effectively. We conducted a pilot study at several sites in Wales, and hope that the techniques developed could lead to improved detection of the species worldwide.”

The investigation is being carried out as part of Daniel Jones’ PhD research. In conjunction with the detection work, the team is also looking at various approaches to control the weed. It is now clear that there are several types of knotweed, each of which may require different control methods. Among the methods being assessed are naturally occurring enemies of knotweed and combinations of herbicides and physical removal. The team is also assessing the broader ecological role and impacts of knotweed in an effort to explain why it has been so successful in invading so many parts of the British countryside.

Tagged: biological sciences