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GPS Targets Aerial Herbicide Application

On-board global positioning systems (GPS) are being used to refine targeted aerial application of herbicides so that sensitive areas and areas with desirable vegetation cover are excluded.

A geographic information system (GIS) shapefile is loaded into a GPS that is connected to the aircraft’s herbicide-release system. The cross-hatched area in the map at-right shows an area in the BLM’s Pecos District targeted for treatment.


As the aircraft flies over the application area, the GPS turns the spray on and off according to the plane's position in the shapefile.  The graphic at-right shows flight paths, or passes, over the treatment area. Red lines show segments where chemical treatment was red delivered. Where the lines are green, the spray was turned off.

In the example depicted, GPS-based delivery allowed treatment finely-tuned enough to avoid sensitive draw bottoms while still treating immediately adjacent acreage (photo, far right).





GPS-based delivery combines the cost-effectiveness of aerial spraying with the ability to precisely target herbicide application to only those spots where it is appropriate for local resource management objectives. Targeted aerial spraying protects other resource values present in the project area, such as wildlife habitat and water quality, while spraying only the amount of herbicide necessary for successful treatment.

Last updated: 10-20-2009