Identification of Citrus Trees from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Imagery Using Convolutional Neural Networks

Authors: Ovidiu, John Cherbini, Robert Johnson, Andy Lyons and Maggi Kelly

Journal: Drones 2018, 2(4), 39

Publisher: MDPI

Remote sensing is important to precision agriculture and the spatial resolution provided by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is revolutionizing precision agriculture workflows for measurement crop condition and yields over the growing season, for identifying and monitoring weeds and other applications. Monitoring of individual trees for growth, fruit production and pest and disease occurrence remains a high research priority and the delineation of each tree using automated means as an alternative to manual delineation would be useful for long-term farm management. In this paper, we detected citrus and other crop trees from UAV images using a simple convolutional neural network (CNN) algorithm, followed by a classification refinement using superpixels derived from a Simple Linear Iterative Clustering (SLIC) algorithm. The workflow performed well in a relatively complex agricultural environment (multiple targets, multiple size trees and ages, etc.) achieving high accuracy (overall accuracy = 96.24%, Precision (positive predictive value) = 94.59%, Recall (sensitivity) = 97.94%). To our knowledge, this is the first time a CNN has been used with UAV multi-spectral imagery to focus on citrus trees. More of these individual cases are needed to develop standard automated workflows to help agricultural managers better incorporate large volumes of high resolution UAV imagery into agricultural management operations.

Illustration Photo: California Citrus (credits: Jasperdo / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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