News and Success Stories

Published 20 October 2023

Mapping & Zapping our way to sustainable weed control

In the ever-evolving world of agriculture, a Kiwi innovation is set to redefine how we tackle the age-old problem of invasive weeds. Currently in the research and development stage, Map & Zap is a technology set to deliver a prototype weeding system for trial in the wine industry.

With support from KiwiNet and AgResearch, Map & Zap's founder, Kioumars Ghamkhar, is collaborating with wine growers to minimise the need for labour-intensive chemical weed control. He has designed an intelligent weed identification and eradication system that is faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective than those currently in use.

AgResearch Business Development Manager John Morris (left) with Map & Zap's founder, Kioumars Ghamkhar (right).

Ghamkhar, who also serves as the director of The Margot Forde Genebank (New Zealand's national seed bank of grassland plants) at AgResearch, started this weed-busting journey in 2016 by teaming up with an alliance of experts, including laser scientists, electronic engineers, and mechatronics specialists. The result: a two-pronged approach to weed management.

As the name suggests the Map & Zap system's core lies in two key components: mapping and zapping. High-precision imagery is captured and used to identify specific weed species, then laser technology zaps the weeds with impressive accuracy.

Ghamkhar recently joined the Australian Market Immersion where he met with potential funders and collaborators. Visits to growers, organised by Callaghan Innovation, provided Ghamkhar the chance to hear the frustration over the high labour cost, and long-term ineffectiveness of currently available alternative solutions they were using.

Callaghan Innovation Project lead, Sophie Rebbeck said this is exactly the impact the market immersion is designed to have.

You can’t beat getting these companies on the ground, in new markets to hear first-hand about the problems growers face. Being able to facilitate these conversations with growers, investors and collaborators is our aim, so it is great to hear when it pays off. 

– Sophie Rebbeck, Callaghan Innovation

Though not yet available on the market, Map & Zap's commercialisation journey is underway, offering a beacon of hope for accurate, chemical-free weed control — a game-changer for growers and a win for the environment.