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In Plant methods

Background : High throughput non-destructive phenotyping is emerging as a significant approach for phenotyping germplasm and breeding populations for the identification of superior donors, elite lines, and QTLs. Detection and counting of spikes, the grain bearing organs of wheat, is critical for phenomics of a large set of germplasm and breeding lines in controlled and field conditions. It is also required for precision agriculture where the application of nitrogen, water, and other inputs at this critical stage is necessary. Further, counting of spikes is an important measure to determine yield. Digital image analysis and machine learning techniques play an essential role in non-destructive plant phenotyping analysis.

Results : In this study, an approach based on computer vision, particularly object detection, to recognize and count the number of spikes of the wheat plant from the digital images is proposed. For spike identification, a novel deep-learning network, SpikeSegNet, has been developed by combining two proposed feature networks: Local Patch extraction Network (LPNet) and Global Mask refinement Network (GMRNet). In LPNet, the contextual and spatial features are learned at the local patch level. The output of LPNet is a segmented mask image, which is further refined at the global level using GMRNet. Visual (RGB) images of 200 wheat plants were captured using LemnaTec imaging system installed at Nanaji Deshmukh Plant Phenomics Centre, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi. The precision, accuracy, and robustness (F1 score) of the proposed approach for spike segmentation are found to be 99.93%, 99.91%, and 99.91%, respectively. For counting the number of spikes, "analyse particles"-function of imageJ was applied on the output image of the proposed SpikeSegNet model. For spike counting, the average precision, accuracy, and robustness are 99%, 95%, and 97%, respectively. SpikeSegNet approach is tested for robustness with illuminated image dataset, and no significant difference is observed in the segmentation performance.

Conclusion : In this study, a new approach called as SpikeSegNet has been proposed based on combined digital image analysis and deep learning techniques. A dedicated deep learning approach has been developed to identify and count spikes in the wheat plants. The performance of the approach demonstrates that SpikeSegNet is an effective and robust approach for spike detection and counting. As detection and counting of wheat spikes are closely related to the crop yield, and the proposed approach is also non-destructive, it is a significant step forward in the area of non-destructive and high-throughput phenotyping of wheat.

Misra Tanuj, Arora Alka, Marwaha Sudeep, Chinnusamy Viswanathan, Rao Atmakuri Ramakrishna, Jain Rajni, Sahoo Rabi Narayan, Ray Mrinmoy, Kumar Sudhir, Raju Dhandapani, Jha Ranjeet Ranjan, Nigam Aditya, Goel Swati


Deep learning, Encoder-decoder deep network, Image analysis, Non-destructive plant phenotyping, Wheat spikes identification and count