How Drones Are Used in the Battle Against Japanese Knotweed

27th March, 2017

While drones are used for a number of applications, the most widely used commercial application is surveying. This includes surveying large areas of land for Japanese knotweed infestations.

In fact, drone technology is significantly improving work to eradicate Japanese knotweed. This is largely driven by improvements in drone technology. This particularly applies to the quality of cameras that are available, especially cameras that are small enough to attach to a drone.

Despite these cameras being small, they still create high resolution images that can be assessed manually or through a computer programme.

In the hands of a skilled operator with knowledge and experience of knotweed control and management, it is possible to map large areas of land to identify clusters of knotweed growth. Effective Japanese knotweed management plans can then be put in place.


Benefits of Drone-Based Japanese Knotweed Identification and Eradication

The main benefit is a drone’s ability to cover wide areas of land in a short space of time. This enables quick and accurate identification of knotweed and other invasive plant species.

Once the imagery is collected it can then be used to map the knotweed so the extent of the infestation can be properly analysed. If applicable, a plan can then be put in place to get rid of the knotweed. To save time and resources, drone-created maps are used to direct knotweed removal teams to the infected areas.

Once the removal action is taken and knotweed management plans are put in place, further drone surveys of the area can be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the work. It will be quickly identified if sections of knotweed are missed, if there are new infestations, or if the knotweed has managed to survive.

There are other benefits of drone surveys compared to the most commonly used alternative – surveying from the ground. Firstly, a survey completed with a drone will be far more accurate than a ground-based survey, plus there is less chance of missing areas.

In addition, with a ground-based survey you run the risk of spreading the knotweed as shoes and boots come into contact with infected areas. You don’t have this issue when you use drones.



If you’re a landowner, getting a drone knotweed survey could also help protect you from civil action in the courts. This follows a ruling in a case taken by home owners against Network Rail. The courts decided that Network Rail had to pay compensation to the homeowners for damage caused to their properties by knotweed that originated on Network Rail’s land.

The homeowners also claimed the value of their properties had fallen as a result of the knotweed. Experts predict the case will have implications for landowners throughout the UK.

The best way to mitigate against the risk of knotweed on your land impacting buildings owned by third-parties is to survey the whole area so you know exactly where the knotweed exists. You can then put effective knotweed management plans in place.



Of course, surveying the land you own from the air with a drone to identify knotweed is not as simple as buying a drone and fitting a camera to it. You must also be able to fly the drone, plus the camera must be suitable for surveying purposes. In addition, you need the technology and the skills to use the data you collect from the drone to map the area surveyed.

These are not the only restrictions, however, as there are also regulations governing the use of drones for commercial purposes. This can restrict or even prevent you from being able to survey the property you own. It may also prevent a third-party from doing it for you unless they have relevant experience and have obtained the necessary permissions.

The use of drones is governed by the UK’s aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority. It’s particularly concerned with ensuring the operator of the drone is competent and that sufficient consideration is given under certain circumstances. This includes when the drone is flown close to animals, people, buildings, or vehicles.


Surveying Your Property

The restrictions on using drones for surveying knotweed simply means you should use a provider who has experience and the necessary skills. The benefits to you are considerable as drones are one of the most effective ways of controlling knotweed over large areas.

Japanese Knotweed Specialists has extensive experience and skills in both the identification and eradication of knotweed, as well as in the operation of drones. If you would like to find out more, please contact us today by calling 0800-122-3326.

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