SASKATOON -- University of Saskatchewan researchers are helping to develop technology to help lower pesticide use across Canada.

“The aim is to develop new ways to spray weeds or other pests in a targeted way,” computer scientist Ian Stavness, the lead researcher, said in a news release.

“The university’s role is to develop a way to find out precisely where the weeds are so that they can be sprayed more efficiently to reduce pesticide use and help protect the environment. We will develop software to automatically sort through drone images of fields to identify weeds.”

The new technology could reduce pesticide use by up to 95 per cent while maintaining crop yield, saving farmers about $52 per acre per growing season, the university says.

It can be retrofitted to existing pesticide sprayers, as well as to new sprayers, creating a product suitable for producers across Canada, according to the release.

The research is under the umbrella of a $26.2 million Protein Industries Canada project into using artificial intelligence to target weeds and other pest crops.

PIC is spending $12.8 million with other partners pitching in the remaining $13.4 million.