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Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 330;

High-Throughput Phenotyping of Canopy Cover and Senescence in Maize Field Trials Using Aerial Digital Canopy Imaging

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), P.O. Box MP163, Harare, Zimbabwe
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), P.O. Box 1041, Nairobi, Kenya
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 November 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2018 / Accepted: 8 February 2018 / Published: 23 February 2018
PDF [5074 KB, uploaded 23 February 2018]


In the crop breeding process, the use of data collection methods that allow reliable assessment of crop adaptation traits, faster and cheaper than those currently in use, can significantly improve resource use efficiency by reducing selection cost and can contribute to increased genetic gain through improved selection efficiency. Current methods to estimate crop growth (ground canopy cover) and leaf senescence are essentially manual and/or by visual scoring, and are therefore often subjective, time consuming, and expensive. Aerial sensing technologies offer radically new perspectives for assessing these traits at low cost, faster, and in a more objective manner. We report the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with an RGB camera for crop cover and canopy senescence assessment in maize field trials. Aerial-imaging-derived data showed a moderately high heritability for both traits with a significant genetic correlation with grain yield. In addition, in some cases, the correlation between the visual assessment (prone to subjectivity) of crop senescence and the senescence index, calculated from aerial imaging data, was significant. We concluded that the UAV-based aerial sensing platforms have great potential for monitoring the dynamics of crop canopy characteristics like crop vigor through ground canopy cover and canopy senescence in breeding trial plots. This is anticipated to assist in improving selection efficiency through higher accuracy and precision, as well as reduced time and cost of data collection. View Full-Text
Keywords: aerial sensing; maize; crop phenotyping; senescence; imaging aerial sensing; maize; crop phenotyping; senescence; imaging

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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Makanza, R.; Zaman-Allah, M.; Cairns, J.E.; Magorokosho, C.; Tarekegne, A.; Olsen, M.; Prasanna, B.M. High-Throughput Phenotyping of Canopy Cover and Senescence in Maize Field Trials Using Aerial Digital Canopy Imaging. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 330.

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