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Open AccessArticle

Digital Count of Corn Plants Using Images Taken by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Cross Correlation of Templates

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Colegio de Postgraduados, Carretera México-Texcoco Km. 36.5, Montecillo, Texcoco 56230, Mexico
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Departamento de Irrigación, Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Carretera México-Texcoco, km 38.5, Chapingo 56230, Mexico
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Centro Universitario de la Costa Sur, Universidad de Guadalajara, Avenida Independencia Nacional 151, Autlán 48900, Mexico
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 469; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040469
Received: 17 February 2020 / Revised: 18 March 2020 / Accepted: 26 March 2020 / Published: 28 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Innovative Cropping Systems)
The number of plants, or planting density, is a key factor in corn crop yield. The objective of the present research work was to count corn plants using images obtained by sensors mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). An experiment was set up with five levels of nitrogen fertilization (140, 200, 260, 320 and 380 kg/ha) and four replicates, resulting in 20 experimental plots. The images were taken at 23, 44 and 65 days after sowing (DAS) at a flight altitude of 30 m, using two drones equipped with RGB sensors of 12, 16 and 20 megapixels (Canon PowerShot S100_5.2, Sequoia_4.9, DJI FC6310_8.8). Counting was done through normalized cross-correlation (NCC) for four, eight and twelve plant samples or templates in the a* channel of the CIELAB color space because it represented the green color that allowed plant segmentation. A mean precision of 99% was obtained for a pixel size of 0.49 cm, with a mean error of 2.2% and a determination coefficient of 0.90 at 44 DAS. Precision values above 91% were obtained at 23 and 44 DAS, with a mean error between plants counted digitally and visually of ±5.4%. Increasing the number of samples or templates in the correlation estimation improved the counting precision. Good precision was achieved in the first growth stages of the crop when the plants do not overlap and there are no weeds. Using sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles, it is possible to determine the emergence of seedlings in the field and more precisely evaluate planting density, having more accurate information for better management of corn fields. View Full-Text
Keywords: corn; image; plant counting; cross-correlation; UAV; sensors corn; image; plant counting; cross-correlation; UAV; sensors
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García-Martínez, H.; Flores-Magdaleno, H.; Khalil-Gardezi, A.; Ascencio-Hernández, R.; Tijerina-Chávez, L.; Vázquez-Peña, M.A.; Mancilla-Villa, O.R. Digital Count of Corn Plants Using Images Taken by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Cross Correlation of Templates. Agronomy 2020, 10, 469.

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