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Sensors 2017, 17(8), 1823;

A True-Color Sensor and Suitable Evaluation Algorithm for Plant Recognition

Institute of Agricultural Engineering, University Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 May 2017 / Revised: 31 July 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 8 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors in Agriculture)
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Plant-specific herbicide application requires sensor systems for plant recognition and differentiation. A literature review reveals a lack of sensor systems capable of recognizing small weeds in early stages of development (in the two- or four-leaf stage) and crop plants, of making spraying decisions in real time and, in addition, are that are inexpensive and ready for practical use in sprayers. The system described in this work is based on free cascadable and programmable true-color sensors for real-time recognition and identification of individual weed and crop plants. The application of this type of sensor is suitable for municipal areas and farmland with and without crops to perform the site-specific application of herbicides. Initially, databases with reflection properties of plants, natural and artificial backgrounds were created. Crop and weed plants should be recognized by the use of mathematical algorithms and decision models based on these data. They include the characteristic color spectrum, as well as the reflectance characteristics of unvegetated areas and areas with organic material. The CIE-Lab color-space was chosen for color matching because it contains information not only about coloration (a- and b-channel), but also about luminance (L-channel), thus increasing accuracy. Four different decision making algorithms based on different parameters are explained: (i) color similarity (ΔE); (ii) color similarity split in ΔL, Δa and Δb; (iii) a virtual channel ‘d’ and (iv) statistical distribution of the differences of reflection backgrounds and plants. Afterwards, the detection success of the recognition system is described. Furthermore, the minimum weed/plant coverage of the measuring spot was calculated by a mathematical model. Plants with a size of 1–5% of the spot can be recognized, and weeds in the two-leaf stage can be identified with a measuring spot size of 5 cm. By choosing a decision model previously, the detection quality can be increased. Depending on the characteristics of the background, different models are suitable. Finally, the results of field trials on municipal areas (with models of plants), winter wheat fields (with artificial plants) and grassland (with dock) are shown. In each experimental variant, objects and weeds could be recognized. View Full-Text
Keywords: CIE-Lab; precision plant protection; optical sensor; weed control CIE-Lab; precision plant protection; optical sensor; weed control

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Schmittmann, O.; Schulze Lammers, P. A True-Color Sensor and Suitable Evaluation Algorithm for Plant Recognition. Sensors 2017, 17, 1823.

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