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A novel method for the detection of Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica) using specially trained canines – Presented by Kat Janczur

Japanese knotweed presents unique training challenges, as working dogs to a living plant adds complexity for training and operational practice. As knotweed grows within the environment, it is crucial to ensure that the scent picture remains clean for the dogs. Training to a live plant involves careful consideration of the changing nature of knotweed throughout the seasons, with dogs required to be confident in recognising the plant at each stage of its life cycle. This significant variation is reflected in dog’s varying responses to the plant during different seasons, which will be demonstrated with video examples.

Although our dogs are operationally effective, it is important to test and evidence their ability to detect knotweed in a scientific way; we are therefore developing a research project exploring this. Two dogs will perform a double-blind odour identification test containing 30 target plants each, against control plant species. Initial data collection will be complete by July, ready to share analysis and insights at the conference.

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