The Paintball Gun’s Surprising Role in the Ecosystem

Well, if you’ve got mad skill on the paintball course and an intense interest in ecosystems/agriculture, you’ll be intrigued to know the two have collided. Developed by Dr. James Leary of the University of Hawaii, Herbicide Ballistic Technology (I know, just when you thought it couldn’t get better), or HBT, gives sharp-shooting scientists the ability to target plants in difficult terrain — from a helicopter.

In his video online (embedded below), Leary says, “The concept behind Herbicide Ballistic Technology is to develop a strategy that utilizes the smallest amount of herbicide necessary to effectively control incipient weeds within our natural areas.”

For those of you who are skeptical about the legitimacy of this story (hrm, @realag_lyndsey), Leary is one of twenty-seven award recipients of the Hawaii Invasive Species Council’s (HISC) over $2M budget for the 2014 fiscal year. The budget is aimed at funding work related to invasive species, including: planning, prevention, control, and outreach.

Leary will receive $87,000 to  fund further research in HBT use on Miconia calvescens, a HISC priority species considered “very invasive.” Leary’s project will focus on ten “high-priority patch populations” and will measure performance efficiency as well as the change in target population density. If successful, a new proposal will be submitted for further research into HBT on Miconia.

HBT is just another reminder of the ever-improving, ever-innovative work in the herbicide world. Perhaps one day we’ll have Unmanned Aerial Vehicles delivering HBT to “incipient weeds” in our cropland…

If you’re interested in learning more about HBT, check out the Hawaii Forestry Extension Program’s video with Leary.

If you can’t view the embedded video, click here.


Debra Murphy

Debra Murphy is a Field Editor based out of east central Alberta, where she never misses a moment to capture with her camera the real beauty of agriculture. Follow her on Twitter @RealAg_Debra


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