An Applied Deep Learning Approach for Estimating Soybean Relative Maturity from UAV Imagery to Aid Plant Breeding Decisions

by   Saba Moeinizade, et al.

For a global breeding organization, identifying the next generation of superior crops is vital for its success. Recognizing new genetic varieties requires years of in-field testing to gather data about the crop's yield, pest resistance, heat resistance, etc. At the conclusion of the growing season, organizations need to determine which varieties will be advanced to the next growing season (or sold to farmers) and which ones will be discarded from the candidate pool. Specifically for soybeans, identifying their relative maturity is a vital piece of information used for advancement decisions. However, this trait needs to be physically observed, and there are resource limitations (time, money, etc.) that bottleneck the data collection process. To combat this, breeding organizations are moving toward advanced image capturing devices. In this paper, we develop a robust and automatic approach for estimating the relative maturity of soybeans using a time series of UAV images. An end-to-end hybrid model combining Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) and Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) is proposed to extract features and capture the sequential behavior of time series data. The proposed deep learning model was tested on six different environments across the United States. Results suggest the effectiveness of our proposed CNN-LSTM model compared to the local regression method. Furthermore, we demonstrate how this newfound information can be used to aid in plant breeding advancement decisions.


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