Weed Density and Distribution Estimation for Precision Agriculture Using Semi-Supervised Learning

Shantam Shorewala, Armaan Ashfaque, R. Sidharth, Ujjwal Verma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Uncontrolled growth of weeds can severely affect the crop yield and quality. Unrestricted use of herbicide for weed removal alters biodiversity and cause environmental pollution. Instead, identifying weed-infested regions can aid selective chemical treatment of these regions. Advances in analyzing farm images have resulted in solutions to identify weed plants. However, a majority of these approaches are based on supervised learning methods which requires huge amount of manually annotated images. As a result, these supervised approaches are economically infeasible for the individual farmer because of the wide variety of plant species being cultivated. In this paper, we propose a deep learning-based semi-supervised approach for robust estimation of weed density and distribution across farmlands using only limited color images acquired from autonomous robots. This weed density and distribution can be useful in a site-specific weed management system for selective treatment of infected areas using autonomous robots. In this work, the foreground vegetation pixels containing crops and weeds are first identified using a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) based unsupervised segmentation. Subsequently, the weed infected regions are identified using a fine-tuned CNN, eliminating the need for designing hand-crafted features. The approach is validated on two datasets of different crop/weed species (1) Crop Weed Field Image Dataset (CWFID), which consists of carrot plant images and the (2) Sugar Beets dataset. The proposed method is able to localize weed-infested regions a maximum recall of 0.99 and estimate weed density with a maximum accuracy of 82.13%. Hence, the proposed approach is shown to generalize to different plant species without the need for extensive labeled data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9350244
Pages (from-to)27971-27986
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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