Leaf Counting: Fusing Network Components for Improved Accuracy

Front Plant Sci. 2021 Jun 10;12:575751. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.575751. eCollection 2021.

Abstract

Leaf counting in potted plants is an important building block for estimating their health status and growth rate and has obtained increasing attention from the visual phenotyping community in recent years. Two novel deep learning approaches for visual leaf counting tasks are proposed, evaluated, and compared in this study. The first method performs counting via direct regression but using multiple image representation resolutions to attend leaves of multiple scales. The leaf count from multiple resolutions is fused using a novel technique to get the final count. The second method is detection with a regression model that counts the leaves after locating leaf center points and aggregating them. The algorithms are evaluated on the Leaf Counting Challenge (LCC) dataset of the Computer Vision Problems in Plant Phenotyping (CVPPP) conference 2017, and a new larger dataset of banana leaves. Experimental results show that both methods outperform previous CVPPP LCC challenge winners, based on the challenge evaluation metrics, and place this study as the state of the art in leaf counting. The detection with regression method is found to be preferable for larger datasets when the center-dot annotation is available, and it also enables leaf center localization with a 0.94 average precision. When such annotations are not available, the multiple scale regression model is a good option.

Keywords: counting with convolutional neural networks; fusing network components for counting; growth rate estimation; image-based plant phenotyping; leaf counting.