Total above-ground biomass at harvest and ear density are two important traits that characterize wheat genotypes. Two experiments were carried out in two different sites where several genotypes were grown under contrasted irrigation and nitrogen treatments. A high spatial resolution RGB camera was used to capture the residual stems standing straight after the cutting by the combine machine during harvest. It provided a ground spatial resolution better than 0.2 mm. A Faster Regional Convolutional Neural Network (Faster-RCNN) deep-learning model was first trained to identify the stems cross section. Results showed that the identification provided precision and recall close to 95%. Further, the balance between precision and recall allowed getting accurate estimates of the stem density with a relative RMSE close to 7% and robustness across the two experimental sites. The estimated stem density was also compared with the ear density measured in the field with traditional methods. A very high correlation was found with almost no bias, indicating that the stem density could be a good proxy of the ear density. The heritability/repeatability evaluated over 16 genotypes in one of the two experiments was slightly higher (80%) than that of the ear density (78%). The diameter of each stem was computed from the profile of gray values in the extracts of the stem cross section. Results show that the stem diameters follow a gamma distribution over each microplot with an average diameter close to 2.0 mm. Finally, the biovolume computed as the product of the average stem diameter, the stem density, and plant height is closely related to the above-ground biomass at harvest with a relative RMSE of 6%. Possible limitations of the findings and future applications are finally discussed.
High-Throughput Measurements of Stem Characteristics to Estimate Ear Density and Above-Ground Biomass
Xiuliang Jin; Simon Madec; Dan Dutartre; Benoit de Solan; Alexis Comar; Frédéric Baret