An explainable deep machine vision framework for plant stress phenotyping

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Ghosal, Sambuddha
Blystone, David
Singh, Arti
Sarkar, Soumik
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Singh, Asheesh
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Mechanical Engineering
The Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University is where innovation thrives and the impossible is made possible. This is where your passion for problem-solving and hands-on learning can make a real difference in our world. Whether you’re helping improve the environment, creating safer automobiles, or advancing medical technologies, and athletic performance, the Department of Mechanical Engineering gives you the tools and talent to blaze your own trail to an amazing career.
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The Department of Agronomy seeks to teach the study of the farm-field, its crops, and its science and management. It originally consisted of three sub-departments to do this: Soils, Farm-Crops, and Agricultural Engineering (which became its own department in 1907). Today, the department teaches crop sciences and breeding, soil sciences, meteorology, agroecology, and biotechnology.

The Department of Agronomy was formed in 1902. From 1917 to 1935 it was known as the Department of Farm Crops and Soils.

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  • Department of Farm Crops and Soils (1917–1935)

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Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) contains two focuses. The focus on Electrical Engineering teaches students in the fields of control systems, electromagnetics and non-destructive evaluation, microelectronics, electric power & energy systems, and the like. The Computer Engineering focus teaches in the fields of software systems, embedded systems, networking, information security, computer architecture, etc.

The Department of Electrical Engineering was formed in 1909 from the division of the Department of Physics and Electrical Engineering. In 1985 its name changed to Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering. In 1995 it became the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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  • Department of Electrical Engineering (1909-1985)
  • Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (1985-1995)

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Current approaches for accurate identification, classification, and quantification of biotic and abiotic stresses in crop research and production are predominantly visual and require specialized training. However, such techniques are hindered by subjectivity resulting from inter- and intrarater cognitive variability. This translates to erroneous decisions and a significant waste of resources. Here, we demonstrate a machine learning framework’s ability to identify and classify a diverse set of foliar stresses in soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] with remarkable accuracy. We also present an explanation mechanism, using the top-K high-resolution feature maps that isolate the visual symptoms used to make predictions. This unsupervised identification of visual symptoms provides a quantitative measure of stress severity, allowing for identification (type of foliar stress), classification (low, medium, or high stress), and quantification (stress severity) in a single framework without detailed symptom annotation by experts. We reliably identified and classified several biotic (bacterial and fungal diseases) and abiotic (chemical injury and nutrient deficiency) stresses by learning from over 25,000 images. The learned model is robust to input image perturbations, demonstrating viability for high-throughput deployment. We also noticed that the learned model appears to be agnostic to species, seemingly demonstrating an ability of transfer learning. The availability of an explainable model that can consistently, rapidly, and accurately identify and quantify foliar stresses would have significant implications in scientific research, plant breeding, and crop production. The trained model could be deployed in mobile platforms (e.g., unmanned air vehicles and automated ground scouts) for rapid, large-scale scouting or as a mobile application for real-time detection of stress by farmers and researchers.


This article is published as Ghosal, Sambuddha, David Blystone, Asheesh K. Singh, Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, Arti Singh, and Soumik Sarkar. "An explainable deep machine vision framework for plant stress phenotyping." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018): 201716999. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1716999115

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2018