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Sensors 2012, 12(12), 17343-17357; doi:10.3390/s121217343
Article

An Ultrasonic System for Weed Detection in Cereal Crops

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Received: 22 October 2012; in revised form: 2 December 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 13 December 2012
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Abstract: Site-specific weed management requires sensing of the actual weed infestation levels in agricultural fields to adapt the management accordingly. However, sophisticated sensor systems are not yet in wider practical use, since they are not easily available for the farmers and their handling as well as the management practice requires additional efforts. A new sensor-based weed detection method is presented in this paper and its applicability to cereal crops is evaluated. An ultrasonic distance sensor for the determination of plant heights was used for weed detection. It was hypothesised that the weed infested zones have a higher amount of biomass than non-infested areas and that this can be determined by plant height measurements. Ultrasonic distance measurements were taken in a winter wheat field infested by grass weeds and broad-leaved weeds. A total of 80 and 40 circular-shaped samples of different weed densities and compositions were assessed at two different dates. The sensor was pointed directly to the ground for height determination. In the following, weeds were counted and then removed from the sample locations. Grass weeds and broad-leaved weeds were separately removed. Differences between weed infested and weed-free measurements were determined. Dry-matter of weeds and crop was assessed and evaluated together with the sensor measurements. RGB images were taken prior and after weed removal to determine the coverage percentages of weeds and crop per sampling point. Image processing steps included EGI (excess green index) computation and thresholding to separate plants and background. The relationship between ultrasonic readings and the corresponding coverage of the crop and weeds were assessed using multiple regression analysis. Results revealed a height difference between infested and non-infested sample locations. Density and biomass of weeds present in the sample influenced the ultrasonic readings. The possibilities of weed group discrimination were assessed by discriminant analysis. The ultrasonic readings permitted the separation between weed infested zones and non-infested areas with up to 92.8% of success. This system will potentially reduce the cost of weed detection and offers an opportunity to its use in non-selective methods for weed control.
Keywords: ultrasonic distance sensor; weed detection; image processing ultrasonic distance sensor; weed detection; image processing
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Andújar, D.; Weis, M.; Gerhards, R. An Ultrasonic System for Weed Detection in Cereal Crops. Sensors 2012, 12, 17343-17357.

AMA Style

Andújar D, Weis M, Gerhards R. An Ultrasonic System for Weed Detection in Cereal Crops. Sensors. 2012; 12(12):17343-17357.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Andújar, Dionisio; Weis, Martin; Gerhards, Roland. 2012. "An Ultrasonic System for Weed Detection in Cereal Crops." Sensors 12, no. 12: 17343-17357.



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