Using remote sensing to find tussock: research

The VSTWP have been watching with excitement at an innovative research project by Agriculture Victoria on the use of remote sensing to determine the distribution of alligator weed and serrated tussock.

The research team explored the use of satellite imagery to map serrated tussock across the landscape, and developed a series of serrated tussock classification algorithms. The focus area was the Western Grasslands Reserve (WGR), located in a peri-urban area of western Melbourne. The area is located within the core area of serrated tussock infestation for Victoria and includes: native grassland reserves; land in transition from agriculture to reserve; agricultural land including livestock grazing and cropping; and residential and industrial land.

The research was conducted by gathering ground data for training and validating the serrated tussock remote sensing tool at plots located to align with the 10m pixels of the Sentinel-2 imagery. The largest data set was collected in spring 2021, where contractors engaged by DELWP and Wyndham City Council surveyed 2,800 ha of public and private land in the WGR, recording visual cover estimates of different vegetation.

This program showed that researchers could confidently use the contractor’s visual data for ground training a serrated tussock remote sensing tool.  Based on these outputs, they conclude that serrated tussock can be mapped effectively at landscape and paddock scales utilising satellite data. Further development of the classification algorithms is required to develop a serrated tussock mapping tool that provides information suitable for a range of management and monitoring applications.

The report notes that further development is required to provide a serrated tussock mapping tool that is suitable for a range of management and monitoring applications.

The VSTWP have organised for Agriculture Victoria to present the project findings at our annual general meeting in November. They are also keen to present findings and explore opportunities at the VSTWPs Annual Stakeholder Workshop, planned for April or May 2023.

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(Image 1: Mapping of probable serrated tussock sites versus the aerial image)