Smartphone app helps farmers scout for Alberta’s noxious weeds

App allows farmers to identify noxious weeds and report them to their local municipal fieldmen

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Need help identifying a noxious weed? Of course, there’s an app for that.

“Most people have a phone with them at any given time,” said Jeff Fleischer, a member of the communications committee for the Association of Alberta Agricultural Fieldmen.

“We prepared the app so that people could have a list of all of the noxious weeds in Alberta readily available.”

Most farmers aren’t familiar with the 75 different species of noxious weeds found in Alberta — especially the prohibited noxious weeds, he said.

“Some of these you don’t see every day,” said Fleischer, who works for the Municipal District of Rocky View.

“Let’s face it, Canada thistle would be the only one on the app that we see regularly. People are unsure of them, so this way, people will have them at hand.”

The app allows users to search by keyword, type (noxious or prohibited noxious), and colour.

“If you just know the colour of the weed that you’re looking at, you would then be able to filter it down by flower colour, and it would show you all the weeds with, say, yellow flowers in Alberta,” said Fleischer, adding the app also links to the full Alberta Invasive Plant Identification Guide.

But the thing the fieldmen “like most” about the app is its reporting capabilities.

“If you wanted to report an unknown weed, you can actually click the ‘Report’ button on the app, attach a photo of it, and send it to your local municipal fieldmen to help identify it,” he said.

“If someone is unsure about a weed, they can just attach that photo and send it off, and someone will be able to ID it for them.”

The hope is that farmers will use the app to report noxious weeds when scouting so municipal fieldmen can map the weeds and monitor their spread.

“These are the weeds that we don’t want in Alberta. The more we know about them, the more we can help people with controlling them and reducing their spread.”

The app is available for free in the Google Play Store for Android smartphones and on iTunes for iPhones by searching ‘alberta agriculture fieldmen.’

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer Blair

Jennifer Blair is a Red Deer-based reporter with a post-secondary education in professional writing and nearly 10 years of experience in corporate communications, policy development, and journalism. She's spent half of her career telling stories about an industry she loves for an audience she admires--the farmers who work every day to build a better agriculture industry in Alberta.

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