Author Identifiers

Vi Nguyen Thanh Le
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2665-9332

Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Science

First Advisor

Professor Kamal Alameh

Second Advisor

Dr Beniamin Apopei

Third Advisor

Dr Selam Ahderom

Abstract

In cultivated agricultural fields, weeds are unwanted species that compete with the crop plants for nutrients, water, sunlight and soil, thus constraining their growth. Applying new real-time weed detection and spraying technologies to agriculture would enhance current farming practices, leading to higher crop yields and lower production costs. Various weed detection methods have been developed for Site-Specific Weed Management (SSWM) aimed at maximising the crop yield through efficient control of weeds. Blanket application of herbicide chemicals is currently the most popular weed eradication practice in weed management and weed invasion. However, the excessive use of herbicides has a detrimental impact on the human health, economy and environment. Before weeds are resistant to herbicides and respond better to weed control strategies, it is necessary to control them in the fallow, pre-sowing, early post-emergent and in pasture phases. Moreover, the development of herbicide resistance in weeds is the driving force for inventing precision and automation weed treatments. Various weed detection techniques have been developed to identify weed species in crop fields, aimed at improving the crop quality, reducing herbicide and water usage and minimising environmental impacts.

In this thesis, Local Binary Pattern (LBP)-based algorithms are developed and tested experimentally, which are based on extracting dominant plant features from camera images to precisely detecting weeds from crops in real time. Based on the efficient computation and robustness of the first LBP method, an improved LBP-based method is developed based on using three different LBP operators for plant feature extraction in conjunction with a Support Vector Machine (SVM) method for multiclass plant classification. A 24,000-image dataset, collected using a testing facility under simulated field conditions (Testbed system), is used for algorithm training, validation and testing. The dataset, which is published online under the name “bccr-segset”, consists of four subclasses: background, Canola (Brassica napus), Corn (Zea mays), and Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum). In addition, the dataset comprises plant images collected at four crop growth stages, for each subclass. The computer-controlled Testbed is designed to rapidly label plant images and generate the “bccr-segset” dataset. Experimental results show that the classification accuracy of the improved LBP-based algorithm is 91.85%, for the four classes.

Due to the similarity of the morphologies of the canola (crop) and wild radish (weed) leaves, the conventional LBP-based method has limited ability to discriminate broadleaf crops from weeds. To overcome this limitation and complex field conditions (illumination variation, poses, viewpoints, and occlusions), a novel LBP-based method (denoted k-FLBPCM) is developed to enhance the classification accuracy of crops and weeds with similar morphologies. Our contributions include (i) the use of opening and closing morphological operators in pre-processing of plant images, (ii) the development of the k-FLBPCM method by combining two methods, namely, the filtered local binary pattern (LBP) method and the contour-based masking method with a coefficient k, and (iii) the optimal use of SVM with the radial basis function (RBF) kernel to precisely identify broadleaf plants based on their distinctive features. The high performance of this k-FLBPCM method is demonstrated by experimentally attaining up to 98.63% classification accuracy at four different growth stages for all classes of the “bccr-segset” dataset.

To evaluate performance of the k-FLBPCM algorithm in real-time, a comparison analysis between our novel method (k-FLBPCM) and deep convolutional neural networks (DCNNs) is conducted on morphologically similar crops and weeds. Various DCNN models, namely VGG-16, VGG-19, ResNet50 and InceptionV3, are optimised, by fine-tuning their hyper-parameters, and tested. Based on the experimental results on the “bccr-segset” dataset collected from the laboratory and the “fieldtrip_can_weeds” dataset collected from the field under practical environments, the classification accuracies of the DCNN models and the k-FLBPCM method are almost similar. Another experiment is conducted by training the algorithms with plant images obtained at mature stages and testing them at early stages. In this case, the new k-FLBPCM method outperformed the state-of-the-art CNN models in identifying small leaf shapes of canola-radish (crop-weed) at early growth stages, with an order of magnitude lower error rates in comparison with DCNN models. Furthermore, the execution time of the k-FLBPCM method during the training and test phases was faster than the DCNN counterparts, with an identification time difference of approximately 0.224ms per image for the laboratory dataset and 0.346ms per image for the field dataset. These results demonstrate the ability of the k-FLBPCM method to rapidly detect weeds from crops of similar appearance in real time with less data, and generalize to different size plants better than the CNN-based methods.

Available for download on Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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