Assessment of crop insect damage using unmanned aerial systems: A machine learning approach

Puig, Eduard, Gonzalez, Felipe, Hamilton, Grant, & Grundy, Paul (2015) Assessment of crop insect damage using unmanned aerial systems: A machine learning approach. In 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2015), 29 November - 4 December 2015, Gold Coast, Qld.

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Agricultural pests are responsible for millions of dollars in crop losses and management costs every year. In order to implement optimal site-specific treatments and reduce control costs, new methods to accurately monitor and assess pest damage need to be investigated. In this paper we explore the combination of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), remote sensing and machine learning techniques as a promising technology to address this challenge. The deployment of UAVs as a sensor platform is a rapidly growing field of study for biosecurity and precision agriculture applications. In this experiment, a data collection campaign is performed over a sorghum crop severely damaged by white grubs (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). The larvae of these scarab beetles feed on the roots of plants, which in turn impairs root exploration of the soil profile. In the field, crop health status could be classified according to three levels: bare soil where plants were decimated, transition zones of reduced plant density and healthy canopy areas. In this study, we describe the UAV platform deployed to collect high-resolution RGB imagery as well as the image processing pipeline implemented to create an orthoimage. An unsupervised machine learning approach is formulated in order to create a meaningful partition of the image into each of the crop levels. The aim of the approach is to simplify the image analysis step by minimizing user input requirements and avoiding the manual data labeling necessary in supervised learning approaches. The implemented algorithm is based on the K-means clustering algorithm. In order to control high-frequency components present in the feature space, a neighbourhood-oriented parameter is introduced by applying Gaussian convolution kernels prior to K-means. The outcome of this approach is a soft K-means algorithm similar to the EM algorithm for Gaussian mixture models. The results show the algorithm delivers decision boundaries that consistently classify the field into three clusters, one for each crop health level. The methodology presented in this paper represents a venue for further research towards automated crop damage assessments and biosecurity surveillance.

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ID Code: 95241
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 [Please consult the author]
Deposited On: 28 Apr 2016 22:44
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:52

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