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Special Issue "Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping"

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Remote Sensors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 May 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. David Rousseau
Website
Guest Editor
Laboratoire Angevin de Recherche en Ingénierie des Systèmes (LARIS), Université d’Angers, 49000 Angers, France
Interests: plant imaging; data science; application in plant phenotyping
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Mark Müller-Linow
Website
Guest Editor
Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), 52428 Jülich, Germany
Interests: plant phenotyping; proximal sensing; 2d and 3d imaging; image processing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to collect manuscripts (review and original research articles) associated with low-cost sensor and vector technologies for plant phenotyping in controlled or field conditions. Among others, original and innovative contributions that involve widely accessible and reproducible plant phenotyping technologies, such as smartphone-embedded sensors, Internet of Things technologies, credit card mini-computer systems, associated with low-cost vectors made available under 3D printable objects, do-it-yourself item lists, together with embedded artificial intelligence under open sources, are encouraged. 

Dr. David Rousseau
Dr. Mark Müller-Linow
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sensors is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Plant phenotyping
  • Proximal sensing
  • Connected sensors
  • Smartphone applications
  • Credit-card mini computer
  • Embedded artificial intelligence

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Toward Joint Acquisition-Annotation of Images with Egocentric Devices for a Lower-Cost Machine Learning Application to Apple Detection
Sensors 2020, 20(15), 4173; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20154173 - 27 Jul 2020
Abstract
Since most computer vision approaches are now driven by machine learning, the current bottleneck is the annotation of images. This time-consuming task is usually performed manually after the acquisition of images. In this article, we assess the value of various egocentric vision approaches [...] Read more.
Since most computer vision approaches are now driven by machine learning, the current bottleneck is the annotation of images. This time-consuming task is usually performed manually after the acquisition of images. In this article, we assess the value of various egocentric vision approaches in regard to performing joint acquisition and automatic image annotation rather than the conventional two-step process of acquisition followed by manual annotation. This approach is illustrated with apple detection in challenging field conditions. We demonstrate the possibility of high performance in automatic apple segmentation (Dice 0.85), apple counting (88 percent of probability of good detection, and 0.09 true-negative rate), and apple localization (a shift error of fewer than 3 pixels) with eye-tracking systems. This is obtained by simply applying the areas of interest captured by the egocentric devices to standard, non-supervised image segmentation. We especially stress the importance in terms of time of using such eye-tracking devices on head-mounted systems to jointly perform image acquisition and automatic annotation. A gain of time of over 10-fold by comparison with classical image acquisition followed by manual image annotation is demonstrated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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Open AccessArticle
Low-Cost Automated Vectors and Modular Environmental Sensors for Plant Phenotyping
Sensors 2020, 20(11), 3319; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20113319 - 11 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
High-throughput plant phenotyping in controlled environments (growth chambers and glasshouses) is often delivered via large, expensive installations, leading to limited access and the increased relevance of “affordable phenotyping” solutions. We present two robot vectors for automated plant phenotyping under controlled conditions. Using 3D-printed [...] Read more.
High-throughput plant phenotyping in controlled environments (growth chambers and glasshouses) is often delivered via large, expensive installations, leading to limited access and the increased relevance of “affordable phenotyping” solutions. We present two robot vectors for automated plant phenotyping under controlled conditions. Using 3D-printed components and readily-available hardware and electronic components, these designs are inexpensive, flexible and easily modified to multiple tasks. We present a design for a thermal imaging robot for high-precision time-lapse imaging of canopies and a Plate Imager for high-throughput phenotyping of roots and shoots of plants grown on media plates. Phenotyping in controlled conditions requires multi-position spatial and temporal monitoring of environmental conditions. We also present a low-cost sensor platform for environmental monitoring based on inexpensive sensors, microcontrollers and internet-of-things (IoT) protocols. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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Open AccessArticle
Precise Estimation of NDVI with a Simple NIR Sensitive RGB Camera and Machine Learning Methods for Corn Plants
Sensors 2020, 20(11), 3208; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20113208 - 05 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is widely used in remote sensing to monitor plant growth and chlorophyll levels. Usually, a multispectral camera (MSC) or hyperspectral camera (HSC) is required to obtain the near-infrared (NIR) and red bands for calculating NDVI. However, these [...] Read more.
The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is widely used in remote sensing to monitor plant growth and chlorophyll levels. Usually, a multispectral camera (MSC) or hyperspectral camera (HSC) is required to obtain the near-infrared (NIR) and red bands for calculating NDVI. However, these cameras are expensive, heavy, difficult to geo-reference, and require professional training in imaging and data processing. On the other hand, the RGBN camera (NIR sensitive RGB camera, simply modified from standard RGB cameras by removing the NIR rejection filter) have also been explored to measure NDVI, but the results did not exactly match the NDVI from the MSC or HSC solutions. This study demonstrates an improved NDVI estimation method with an RGBN camera-based imaging system (Ncam) and machine learning algorithms. The Ncam consisted of an RGBN camera, a filter, and a microcontroller with a total cost of only $70 ~ 85. This new NDVI estimation solution was compared with a high-end hyperspectral camera in an experiment with corn plants under different nitrogen and water treatments. The results showed that the Ncam with two-band-pass filter achieved high performance (R2 = 0.96, RMSE = 0.0079) at estimating NDVI with the machine learning model. Additional tests showed that besides NDVI, this low-cost Ncam was also capable of predicting corn plant nitrogen contents precisely. Thus, Ncam is a potential option for MSC and HSC in plant phenotyping projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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Open AccessArticle
Performances Evaluation of a Low-Cost Platform for High-Resolution Plant Phenotyping
Sensors 2020, 20(11), 3150; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20113150 - 02 Jun 2020
Abstract
This study aims to test the performances of a low-cost and automatic phenotyping platform, consisting of a Red-Green-Blue (RGB) commercial camera scanning objects on rotating plates and the reconstruction of main plant phenotypic traits via the structure for motion approach (SfM). The precision [...] Read more.
This study aims to test the performances of a low-cost and automatic phenotyping platform, consisting of a Red-Green-Blue (RGB) commercial camera scanning objects on rotating plates and the reconstruction of main plant phenotypic traits via the structure for motion approach (SfM). The precision of this platform was tested in relation to three-dimensional (3D) models generated from images of potted maize, tomato and olive tree, acquired at a different frequency (steps of 4°, 8° and 12°) and quality (4.88, 6.52 and 9.77 µm/pixel). Plant and organs heights, angles and areas were extracted from the 3D models generated for each combination of these factors. Coefficient of determination (R2), relative Root Mean Square Error (rRMSE) and Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) were used as goodness-of-fit indexes to compare the simulated to the observed data. The results indicated that while the best performances in reproducing plant traits were obtained using 90 images at 4.88 µm/pixel (R2 = 0.81, rRMSE = 9.49% and AIC = 35.78), this corresponded to an unviable processing time (from 2.46 h to 28.25 h for herbaceous plants and olive trees, respectively). Conversely, 30 images at 4.88 µm/pixel resulted in a good compromise between a reliable reconstruction of considered traits (R2 = 0.72, rRMSE = 11.92% and AIC = 42.59) and processing time (from 0.50 h to 2.05 h for herbaceous plants and olive trees, respectively). In any case, the results pointed out that this input combination may vary based on the trait under analysis, which can be more or less demanding in terms of input images and time according to the complexity of its shape (R2 = 0.83, rRSME = 10.15% and AIC = 38.78). These findings highlight the reliability of the developed low-cost platform for plant phenotyping, further indicating the best combination of factors to speed up the acquisition and elaboration process, at the same time minimizing the bias between observed and simulated data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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Open AccessArticle
Gloxinia—An Open-Source Sensing Platform to Monitor the Dynamic Responses of Plants
Sensors 2020, 20(11), 3055; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20113055 - 28 May 2020
Abstract
The study of the dynamic responses of plants to short-term environmental changes is becoming increasingly important in basic plant science, phenotyping, breeding, crop management, and modelling. These short-term variations are crucial in plant adaptation to new environments and, consequently, in plant fitness and [...] Read more.
The study of the dynamic responses of plants to short-term environmental changes is becoming increasingly important in basic plant science, phenotyping, breeding, crop management, and modelling. These short-term variations are crucial in plant adaptation to new environments and, consequently, in plant fitness and productivity. Scalable, versatile, accurate, and low-cost data-logging solutions are necessary to advance these fields and complement existing sensing platforms such as high-throughput phenotyping. However, current data logging and sensing platforms do not meet the requirements to monitor these responses. Therefore, a new modular data logging platform was designed, named Gloxinia. Different sensor boards are interconnected depending upon the needs, with the potential to scale to hundreds of sensors in a distributed sensor system. To demonstrate the architecture, two sensor boards were designed—one for single-ended measurements and one for lock-in amplifier based measurements, named Sylvatica and Planalta, respectively. To evaluate the performance of the system in small setups, a small-scale trial was conducted in a growth chamber. Expected plant dynamics were successfully captured, indicating proper operation of the system. Though a large scale trial was not performed, we expect the system to scale very well to larger setups. Additionally, the platform is open-source, enabling other users to easily build upon our work and perform application-specific optimisations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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Open AccessArticle
Rapid On-Site Phenotyping via Field Fluorimeter Detects Differences in Photosynthetic Performance in a Hybrid—Parent Barley Germplasm Set
Sensors 2020, 20(5), 1486; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20051486 - 08 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Crop productivity can be expressed as the product of the amount of radiation intercepted, radiation use efficiency and harvest index. Genetic variation for components of radiation use efficiency has rarely been explored due to the lack of appropriate equipment to determine parameters at [...] Read more.
Crop productivity can be expressed as the product of the amount of radiation intercepted, radiation use efficiency and harvest index. Genetic variation for components of radiation use efficiency has rarely been explored due to the lack of appropriate equipment to determine parameters at the scale needed in plant breeding. On the other hand, responses of the photosynthetic apparatus to environmental conditions have not been extensively investigated under field conditions, due to the challenges posed by the fluctuating environmental conditions. This study applies a rapid, low-cost, and reliable high-throughput phenotyping tool to explore genotypic variation for photosynthetic performance of a set of hybrid barleys and their parents under mild water-stress and unstressed field conditions. We found differences among the genotypic sets that are relevant for plant breeders and geneticists. Hybrids showed lower leaf temperature differential and higher non-photochemical quenching, resembling closer the male parents. The combination of traits detected in hybrids seems favorable, and could indicate improved photoprotection and better fitness under stress conditions. Additionally, we proved the potential of a low-cost, field-based phenotyping equipment to be used routinely in barley breeding programs for early screening for stress tolerance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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Open AccessArticle
A Cost-Effective and Portable Optical Sensor System to Estimate Leaf Nitrogen and Water Contents in Crops
Sensors 2020, 20(5), 1449; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20051449 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Non-invasive determination of leaf nitrogen (N) and water contents is essential for ensuring the healthy growth of the plants. However, most of the existing methods to measure them are expensive. In this paper, a low-cost, portable multispectral sensor system is proposed to determine [...] Read more.
Non-invasive determination of leaf nitrogen (N) and water contents is essential for ensuring the healthy growth of the plants. However, most of the existing methods to measure them are expensive. In this paper, a low-cost, portable multispectral sensor system is proposed to determine N and water contents in the leaves, non-invasively. Four different species of plants—canola, corn, soybean, and wheat—are used as test plants to investigate the utility of the proposed device. The sensor system comprises two multispectral sensors, visible (VIS) and near-infrared (NIR), detecting reflectance at 12 wavelengths (six from each sensor). Two separate experiments were performed in a controlled greenhouse environment, including N and water experiments. Spectral data were collected from 307 leaves (121 for N and 186 for water experiment), and the rational quadratic Gaussian process regression (GPR) algorithm was applied to correlate the reflectance data with actual N and water content. By performing five-fold cross-validation, the N estimation showed a coefficient of determination ( R 2 ) of 63.91% for canola, 80.05% for corn, 82.29% for soybean, and 63.21% for wheat. For water content estimation, canola showed an R 2 of 18.02%, corn showed an R 2 of 68.41%, soybean showed an R 2 of 46.38%, and wheat showed an R 2 of 64.58%. The result reveals that the proposed low-cost sensor with an appropriate regression model can be used to determine N content. However, further investigation is needed to improve the water estimation results using the proposed device. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards Low-Cost Hyperspectral Single-Pixel Imaging for Plant Phenotyping
Sensors 2020, 20(4), 1132; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20041132 - 19 Feb 2020
Abstract
Hyperspectral imaging techniques have been expanding considerably in recent years. The cost of current solutions is decreasing, but these high-end technologies are not yet available for moderate to low-cost outdoor and indoor applications. We have used some of the latest compressive sensing methods [...] Read more.
Hyperspectral imaging techniques have been expanding considerably in recent years. The cost of current solutions is decreasing, but these high-end technologies are not yet available for moderate to low-cost outdoor and indoor applications. We have used some of the latest compressive sensing methods with a single-pixel imaging setup. Projected patterns were generated on Fourier basis, which is well-known for its properties and reduction of acquisition and calculation times. A low-cost, moderate-flow prototype was developed and studied in the laboratory, which has made it possible to obtain metrologically validated reflectance measurements using a minimal computational workload. From these measurements, it was possible to discriminate plant species from the rest of a scene and to identify biologically contrasted areas within a leaf. This prototype gives access to easy-to-use phenotyping and teaching tools at very low-cost. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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Open AccessArticle
Quantifying Variation in Soybean Due to Flood Using a Low-Cost 3D Imaging System
Sensors 2019, 19(12), 2682; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19122682 - 13 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Flood has an important effect on plant growth by affecting their physiologic and biochemical properties. Soybean is one of the main cultivated crops in the world and the United States is one of the largest soybean producers. However, soybean plant is sensitive to [...] Read more.
Flood has an important effect on plant growth by affecting their physiologic and biochemical properties. Soybean is one of the main cultivated crops in the world and the United States is one of the largest soybean producers. However, soybean plant is sensitive to flood stress that may cause slow growth, low yield, small crop production and result in significant economic loss. Therefore, it is critical to develop soybean cultivars that are tolerant to flood. One of the current bottlenecks in developing new crop cultivars is slow and inaccurate plant phenotyping that limits the genetic gain. This study aimed to develop a low-cost 3D imaging system to quantify the variation in the growth and biomass of soybean due to flood at its early growth stages. Two cultivars of soybeans, i.e. flood tolerant and flood sensitive, were planted in plant pots in a controlled greenhouse. A low-cost 3D imaging system was developed to take measurements of plant architecture including plant height, plant canopy width, petiole length, and petiole angle. It was found that the measurement error of the 3D imaging system was 5.8% in length and 5.0% in angle, which was sufficiently accurate and useful in plant phenotyping. Collected data were used to monitor the development of soybean after flood treatment. Dry biomass of soybean plant was measured at the end of the vegetative stage (two months after emergence). Results show that four groups had a significant difference in plant height, plant canopy width, petiole length, and petiole angle. Flood stress at early stages of soybean accelerated the growth of the flood-resistant plants in height and the petiole angle, however, restrained the development in plant canopy width and the petiole length of flood-sensitive plants. The dry biomass of flood-sensitive plants was near two to three times lower than that of resistant plants at the end of the vegetative stage. The results indicate that the developed low-cost 3D imaging system has the potential for accurate measurements in plant architecture and dry biomass that may be used to improve the accuracy of plant phenotyping. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low-Cost Sensors and Vectors for Plant Phenotyping)
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