A web-based expert system for advising on herbicide use in Great Britain

Summary (from the scientific paper Thomson and Willoughby, 2004)

A web-based system was developed to advise on the relative efficacy of different herbicides for mixes of weed and crop species at different times of the year in a forestry or farm forestry setting.

The system assumes that weed identification and impact assessment or prediction has already been accomplished and that there are no cost-effective non-chemical alternatives. The expert system produces a relative suitability index for each herbicide, as well as an English language discussion of the case.

Practical implications

  • In conjunction with the Canadian Forest Service, a technology demonstrator of an expert system to advise on herbicide selection has been produced.
  • The expert system is freely available for use.
  • The system currently only addresses the choice of a herbicide, for a given month and weed species. Other elements of an integrated approach to forest vegetation management as described in the recently published Forestry Commission Practice Guide on pesticide reduction (Willoughby et al., 2004), such as for example assessing and predicting weed impact, examination of non chemical alternatives, selection of herbicides based on cost and environmental risk, are also amenable to expert system delivery in the future.


Thomson, A.J. and Willoughby, I. (2004). A web-based expert system for advising on herbicide use in Great Britain. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 42, 43-49.

Willoughby, I., Evans, H., Gibbs, J., Pepper, H., Gregory, S., Dewar, J., Pratt, J., McKay, H. (2004). Reducing pesticide use in forestry. Forestry Commission Practice Guide 15, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh, 140 pages.

For further information

Or for a free copy of the papers, please contact the author.

Ian Willoughby
Email: ian.willoughby@forestry.gsi.gov.uk