and the Department of Primary Industries to try crack down on noxious weeds.

As weed management officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Hillary Cherry puts on her high-visibility fluorescent orange vest, her four-legged assistant, Sally sits at her feet, tense with excitement.

"She gets her cues; her cues are I put my jacket on, she puts her jacket on," explains Ms Cherry.

"As soon as she put her jacket on, she perked right up and said 'Oh it's time to work'."

Ms Cherry gives Sally a series of commands starting with 'Working' and then 'Where's the weed?' and 'Find' and with that, the dog is off, sniffing like one possessed.

Sally is giving a demonstration at the Department of Primary Industries Research Station at Orange in central west New South Wales.

Her powerful nose is glued to the ground as she circles and weaves frantically round a patch of grass until she finds a small cutting of orange hawkweed that the research team hid earlier.

To cries of 'Good girl Sally', Ms Cherry smothers the excited dog in pats and gives her a reward of a tennis ball.

It's smiles all round from the staff from the NPWS and their research partners from the DPI because they know that their hard work is reaping rewards.

"Dogs have been used for many many, years to detect illicit substances, which include plants," Ms Cherry said.

"As far as we know it hasn't been done before. It has been done in America a few times with an agricultural weed.

"This particular weed that we're focussed on at the moment, while it's a very bad agricultural weed, it's also an environmental weed, so it can get into bushland."

Orange hawkweed has been chosen for the trial because it's hard to detect by humans and is currently only found in a small, fairly remote alpine area of the Kosciusko National Park in the NSW Snowy Mountains.

"Which is great because it's contained to that area we hope but what we fear is that it could escape and get out into the agricultural systems," Ms Cherry said.

The research team estimates if the weed did escape it could cost Australian agriculture around $48 million a year.

"What's happened in New Zealand with this weed is quite dramatic and it's tragic; over six million hectares [infested]," Ms Cherry said.

The weed has a bright orange flower but for about 10 months of the year it's difficult to detect with the human eye.

"[When it's not in flower] the plant looks like almost any other flat weed that you have in your garden," Ms Cherry said.

"So what we're trying to do is get the noses of the dogs tweaked to finding that plant when it's not in flower so they can smell what we can't see."

"If we can find them before they get into flower that gives us more of a time frame to give us adequate and effective control."

"With an eradication program we have to find every single plant and if we can find them before they set seed that's even better."

Hillary Cherry says when the team first floated the idea of training a dog to detect noxious weeds, the animal trainer was sceptical but now he's the biggest convert.

"We're just looking at ourselves and saying 'Wow, if this works we're really onto something.'

"We're training her [Sally] for orange hawkweed now and very specifically for that as proof of concept.

"But he [the dog trainer] reckons it's only about five or six weeks to train her on another weed.

"So this could be a really amazing tool for us in the future."

The weed detection program started initially with Missy, a dog who was trained to detect feral animals.

Sally is the first to be trained specifically to detect weeds and she'll soon be joined by English springer spaniel puppy, Connor who is currently in training.

Missy and Sally have done field trials at Kosciusko and neighbouring farmers have been kept abreast of the trial.

The research team made up of staff from Sydney and Orange is preparing to return to the park in October with Sally and Connor before the orange hawkweed comes into flower.