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In Pest management science

BACKGROUND : Ecballium elaterium (common name: squirting cucumber) is an emerging weed problem in hedgerow or superintensive olive groves under no tillage. It colonizes the inter-row area infesting the natural or sown cover crops, and is considered a hard-to-control weed. Research in other woody crops has shown E. elaterium has a patchy distribution, which makes this weed susceptible to design a site-specific control strategy only addressed to E. elaterium patches. Therefore, the aim of this work was to develop a methodology based on the analysis of imagery acquired with an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) to detect and map E. elaterium infestations in hedgerow olive orchards.

RESULTS : The study was conducted in two superintensive olive orchards, and the images were taken using a UAV equipped with an RGB sensor. Flights were conducted on two dates: in May, when there were various weeds infesting the orchard, and in September, when E. elaterium was the only infesting weed. UAV-orthomosaics in the first scenario were classified using random forest models, and the orthomosaics from September with E. elaterium as the only weed, were analyzed using an unsupervised algorithm. In both cases, the overall accuracies were over 0.85, and the producer's accuracies for E. elaterium ranged between 0.74 and 1.00.

CONCLUSION : These results allow the design of a site-specific and efficient herbicide control protocol which would represent a step forward in sustainable weed management. The development of these algorithms in free and open-source software fosters their application in small and medium farms. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Torres-Sánchez Jorge, Mesas-Carrascosa Francisco Javier, Pérez-Porras Fernando, López-Granados Francisca


digital transformation, machine learning, random forest, remote sensing, site-specific weed management, squirting cucumber