Aquatic Weeds such as water lily and the stubborn water hyacinth are a modern nightmare and a menace towards development and optimum utilization of water bodies. Water hyacinth is the most dangerous of all aquatic weeds. These weeds hinder boat navigation in water bodies, thus hampering waterway transportation; they limit the recreational use of water bodies and drinking water sources. These aquatic weeds are also a significant contributor to the loose of marine life, which impacts negatively on fisheries and also affects agricultural activities such as irrigation. This poses a substantial threat to global food security as major food industries such as fishing, water, and irrigation are greatly affected. The aquatic weeds also act as breeding grounds for mosquitos which, is a significant threat to human health.
Existing measures to control the spread and growth of these weeds are usually mechanical or manual removal of the weeds from water. This method is not very effective as all traces of the weeds are not eradicated and regenerate from fragments and seeds left behind. To help tackle this problem, scientists in India are undertaking a study that aims at utilizing satellite technology to monitor aquatic weeds in inaccessible and neglected water areas. The study draws its funding of 300,000 euros from the Royal Academy of Engineering, and it is, in line with three United Nations sustainable development goals; clean water and sanitation, zero hunger, and life below water.
The study led by crusading scientists and lecturer in computing science DR. Savitri Maharaj, it aims at using round sensors, drones, and satellites to detect and monitor the spread of these aquatic weeds. The scientists argue that early detection of regrowth is the key to controlling the aquatic weeds menace before it reaches damaging levels and also has a cost-effective potential. Set to benefit from this study is the Kuttanad basin in India, where economic activities such as tourism and agriculture are highly dependent on local lakes and rivers. These water bodies in Kuttanad are highly infested by water hyacinth and will provide extensive coverage through the collected data. To ensure the stainability of the results, the team conducting the study will conduct pilot trials through dissemination activities and training.
Aquatic weeds are a significant threat to water and food security in Asia and Africa as they have a detrimental impact on food and water resource as well as marine biodiversity. Utilizing modern technology will be an effective way to solve this problem w, which has been raging for decades. Hopefully, this study will be adopted by other countries in a bid to counter aquatic weed’s devastating effects.