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Barley yield and fertilization analysis from UAV imagery: a deep learning approach

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In a world with great challenges in food security, optimising cereal production is critical. Cereals are the most important food source for human consumption. The fourth important cereal worldwide after wheat, rice and maize, is Barley, and its production strongly depends on fertilization treatments. The adoption of suitable fertilizer management strategies often results in large economic benefits to producers. However, determining optimal fertilizer doses for a specific barley variety is complex. The collection of data and their analyses can be cost prohibitive for small farmers regarding time and money. This paper introduces an approach to support producers with automatic tools for the analysis of fertilization management of barley. The proposed methodology aims to simultaneously estimate nitrogen fertilization and barley yield, from information derived from aerial RGB images captured by a UAV. Our long term goal is to provide a low-cost and wide-are-coverage solution for the estimation of barley variables that can be leveraged to increase barley yield without increasing costs. A low-cost UAV is used to capture RGB crop field images. Then, a deep convolutional neural network is used for the automated extraction of features from the images. Extracted features are feed into predictive models that estimate the variables of interest. Experimental results reveal that the proposed methodology is able to reach an accuracy above 83% when estimating nitrogen fertilization and a high correlation and low RMSE in the estimation of yield in grams. Experimental results are promising and will pave the way for the development of deep learning methods for barley analysis from aerial imagery that can be accessed by the average farmer.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Computer Science Department, Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica, Puebla, México 2: Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, UANL, San Nicolás de los Garza, NL, México 3: Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, UANL, San Nicolás de los Garza, NL, México 4: Universidad Politécnica de Puebla, México 5: Faculty of Agronomy, UANL, San Nicolás de los Garza, NL, México

Publication date: April 3, 2019

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