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An image analysis pipeline for automated classification of imaging light conditions and for quantification of wheat canopy cover time series in field phenotyping

Author:
Yu, Kang, Kirchgessner, Norbert, Grieder, Christoph, Walter, Achim, Hund, Andreas
Source:
Plant methods 2017 v.13 no.1 pp. 15
ISSN:
1746-4811
Subject:
Triticum aestivum, canopy, color, decision support systems, developmental stages, genotype, image analysis, lighting, models, phenotype, quality control, support vector machines, time series analysis, vegetation, vegetation index, wheat
Abstract:
BACKGROUND: Robust segmentation of canopy cover (CC) from large amounts of images taken under different illumination/light conditions in the field is essential for high throughput field phenotyping (HTFP). We attempted to address this challenge by evaluating different vegetation indices and segmentation methods for analyzing images taken at varying illuminations throughout the early growth phase of wheat in the field. 40,000 images taken on 350 wheat genotypes in two consecutive years were assessed for this purpose. RESULTS: We proposed an image analysis pipeline that allowed for image segmentation using automated thresholding and machine learning based classification methods and for global quality control of the resulting CC time series. This pipeline enabled accurate classification of imaging light conditions into two illumination scenarios, i.e. high light-contrast (HLC) and low light-contrast (LLC), in a series of continuously collected images by employing a support vector machine (SVM) model. Accordingly, the scenario-specific pixel-based classification models employing decision tree and SVM algorithms were able to outperform the automated thresholding methods, as well as improved the segmentation accuracy compared to general models that did not discriminate illumination differences. CONCLUSIONS: The three-band vegetation difference index (NDI3) was enhanced for segmentation by incorporating the HSV-V and the CIE Lab-a color components, i.e. the product images NDI3*V and NDI3*a. Field illumination scenarios can be successfully identified by the proposed image analysis pipeline, and the illumination-specific image segmentation can improve the quantification of CC development. The integrated image analysis pipeline proposed in this study provides great potential for automatically delivering robust data in HTFP.