Transferring learned patterns from ground-based field imagery to predict UAV-based imagery for crop and weed semantic segmentation in precision crop farming

20 Oct 2022  ·  Junfeng Gao, Wenzhi Liao, David Nuyttens, Peter Lootens, Erik Alexandersson, Jan Pieters ·

Weed and crop segmentation is becoming an increasingly integral part of precision farming that leverages the current computer vision and deep learning technologies. Research has been extensively carried out based on images captured with a camera from various platforms. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground-based vehicles including agricultural robots are the two popular platforms for data collection in fields. They all contribute to site-specific weed management (SSWM) to maintain crop yield. Currently, the data from these two platforms is processed separately, though sharing the same semantic objects (weed and crop). In our paper, we have developed a deep convolutional network that enables to predict both field and aerial images from UAVs for weed segmentation and mapping with only field images provided in the training phase. The network learning process is visualized by feature maps at shallow and deep layers. The results show that the mean intersection of union (IOU) values of the segmentation for the crop (maize), weeds, and soil background in the developed model for the field dataset are 0.744, 0.577, 0.979, respectively, and the performance of aerial images from an UAV with the same model, the IOU values of the segmentation for the crop (maize), weeds and soil background are 0.596, 0.407, and 0.875, respectively. To estimate the effect on the use of plant protection agents, we quantify the relationship between herbicide spraying saving rate and grid size (spraying resolution) based on the predicted weed map. The spraying saving rate is up to 90% when the spraying resolution is at 1.78 x 1.78 cm2. The study shows that the developed deep convolutional neural network could be used to classify weeds from both field and aerial images and delivers satisfactory results.

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