Deep learning approaches for yield prediction and crop disease recognition

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Bi, Luning
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Hu, Guiping
Li, Qing
Mueller, Daren
Jannesari, Ali
Qin, Hantang
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Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering
The increase of the world population has brought significant challenges to the agriculture production system. Although mechanization has been realized in agriculture, many tasks (e.g., breeding, field inspection) are still labor-intensive and time-consuming. Therefore an automatic and intelligent solution is needed for the advancement of agricultural production. During this process, the biggest challenge is how to teach computers to understand the concepts in the real world. For example, an experienced expert can easily determine whether a plant is diseased or healthy. However, this may be challenging for the computer. Thus, the motivation of this dissertation study is to tackle these challenges in precision agriculture. This dissertation consists of four papers that propose different deep learning methods for the most challenging problems in agriculture. In the first paper, a genetic algorithm (GA)-assisted deep neural network was built for yield prediction using genetic information and environmental factors. In the global search phase, the GA was introduced to help determine the best initial weights of the neural network. In the local phase, random perturbation was used to avoid the local optimum. By using the proposed method, the root mean square error can be reduced by up to 10%. In the second paper, we proposed a generative adversarial network (GAN)-based approach to generate additional images for the classification of plant species and diseases using limited data. CNN was used as the basic network to classify species and diseases. GAN and label smoothing regularization (LSR) were combined to generate additional training images. Regular data augmentation techniques were also used to expand the dataset. The results showed that compared with using the real dataset only, the proposed method can improve the prediction accuracy by 6%. In the third paper, the potential of using satellite imagery for plant disease detection was explored. A gated recurrent units (GRU)-based model was presented for early detection of soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS) through time-series satellite imagery. The results showed that, compared to XGBoost and fully connected deep neural network (FCDNN), the GRU-based can improve the overall prediction accuracy by 7%. In addition, the proposed method can also be adapted to predict the future development of SDS. In the fourth paper, a transformer-based approach was proposed for soybean yield prediction using time-series camera images and seed treatments information. First, a vision transformer (ViT) base model was designed to extract features from the images. Then another transformer-based model was established to predict the yield using the time-series features. A case study was been conducted using a data set that was collected during the 2020 soybean-growing seasons in Canada. The experiment results show that compared to non-time series prediction and other baseline models, the proposed approach can reduce the mean squared error by 25%-40%. In conclusion, this dissertation aims to apply different state-of-art deep learning methods in agriculture. The study covers different topics, which range from yield prediction, species classification, to plant disease classification and prediction. At the model level, the application of linear models, tree-based methods, fully connected neural networks, convolutional neural networks, time-series models and transformers to different tasks have been investigated. In terms of the learning type, both unsupervised learning and supervised learning have been utilized. The experimental results have shown that appropriate deep learning methods can achieve better performance than traditional methods on specific tasks. Based on our work, more applications of deep learning techniques can be developed in the future.
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