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posted on 07.05.2020 by Karoll Jessenia Quijano Escalante
Maize (Zea mays L.) is one of the most important crops worldwide for its critical importance in agriculture, economic stability, and food security. Many agricultural research and commercial breeding programs target the efficiency of this crop, seeking to increase productivity with fewer inputs and becoming more environmentally sustainable and resistant to impacts of climate and other external factors. For the purpose of analyzing the performance of the new varieties and management strategies, accurate and constant monitoring is crucial and yet, still performed mostly manually, becoming labor-intensive, time-consuming, and costly.
Flowering is one of the most important stages for maize, and many other grain crops, requiring close attention during this period. Any physical or biological negative impact in the tassel, as a reproductive organ, can have significant consequences to the overall grain development, resulting in production losses. Remote sensing observation technologies are currently seeking to close the gap in phenotyping in monitoring the development of the plants’ geometric structure and chemistry-related responses over the growth and reproductive cycle.
For this thesis, remotely sensed hyperspectral imagery were collected, processed and, explored to detect tassels in maize crops. The data were acquired in both a controlled facility using an imaging conveyor, and from the fields using a PhenoRover (wheel-based platform) and a low altitude UAV. Two pixel-based classification experiments were performed on the original hyperspectral imagery (HSI) using Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) and Support Vector Machine (SVM) supervised classifiers. Feature reduction methods, including Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Locally Linear Embedding (LLE), and Isometric Feature Mapping (Isomap) were also investigated, both to identify features for annotating the reference data and in conjunction with classification.
Collecting the data from different systems allowed the identification of strengths and weaknesses for each system and the associated tradeoffs. The controlled facility allowed stable lighting and very high spatial and spectral resolution, although it lacks on supplying information about the plants’ interactions in field conditions. Contrarily, the in-field data from the PhenoRover
and the UAV exposed the complications related to the plant’s density within the plots and the variability in the lighting conditions due to long times of data collection required. The experiments implemented in this study successfully classified pixels as tassels for all images, performing better with higher spatial resolution and in the controlled environment. For the SAM experiment, nonlinear feature extraction via Isomap was necessary to achieve good results, although at a significant computational expense. Dimension reduction did not improve results for the SVM classifier.




Degree Type

Master of Science in Engineering


Environmental and Ecological Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Melba M. Crawford

Additional Committee Member 2

Mitchell R. Tuinstra

Additional Committee Member 3

John A. Howarter