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Creating visually real looking plant photos to coach neural networks

An interactive methodology for creating and calibrating developmental plant fashions expressed utilizing L-systems

This WIWAM robot conveyor system
This WIWAM robotic consists of a conveyor community that brings the crops to weighing-watering stations and imaging cabins, harboring a spread of non-destructive digital camera methods.

Vegetation constantly transfer on a conveyor belt previous sensors that acquire huge collections of knowledge together with photos that can be utilized to extract plant traits because the crops develop. Excessive-throughput phenotyping like this helps plant breeders decide which options and genomic traits are most crucial to plant enchancment.

Though the methods for acquiring these photos and knowledge are sophisticated, decoding the huge portions of photos is an even bigger problem.

Laptop imaginative and prescient algorithms using synthetic neural networks and deep studying to acknowledge and quantify related elements of crop crops present promise in assembly this problem. Nevertheless, these neural networks have to be educated utilizing massive units of annotated photos, the place architectural options of curiosity are labelled, that are time consuming and costly to acquire.

The usage of annotated artificial photos of crops offers a possible various.

In a brand new article revealed in in silico Vegetation, Mikolaj Cieslak, Senior Analysis Affiliate on the College of Calgary, and colleagues current a brand new modelling course of that gives a virtually limitless variety of annotated photos reflecting particular person variation of crops to coach neural networks. The paper presents the vegetative improvement of maize (Zea mays L.) and each the vegetative and flowering improvement of canola (Brassica napus L.) as examples.

The modelling course of for every species was divided into two phases: (1) the development of an L-system, capturing the important parts of the plant species of curiosity qualitatively, and (2) mannequin calibration to a set of images of reference crops.

“For each species, we used parametric L-systems to create a easy, descriptive mannequin of improvement. The L-system mannequin is organized across the idea of positional info, which signifies that the important thing quantitative elements of the goal plant type, such because the distribution of branches, leaves and reproductive organs, are expressed as intuitive, simple to control features of place on their supporting axes.  Developmental processes are simulated by multiplying features of positional info by features of time,” the authors clarify.

Calibration was based mostly on aligning the mannequin with a reference plant utilizing a graphical interface. The reference crops can characterize a selected developmental stage or a sequence of phases. The fashions will be calibrated to seize genetic range, the affect of the surroundings (e.g. water limitation), and/or particular person variation of crops. 

Calibration of a maize model.
Calibration of a maize mannequin.

As soon as calibrated, the mannequin can generate a virtually limitless variety of annotated photos of artificial crops by randomizing the parameters utilizing usually distributed random variables (see determine 1). The calibrated crops can be utilized to visualise crops at completely different developmental phases individually (see prime of determine 2) or be assembled into fashions of complete plots (see backside of determine 2).

Sample canola plants with contrasting architectures (top) and their calibrated models (bottom).
Determine 1: Pattern canola crops with contrasting architectures (prime) and their calibrated fashions (backside).
Simulated canola plants
Determine 2: Prime – Simulated phases of the event of a person plant (days after seeding). Backside – mannequin of a canola plot.

Cieslak provides: “The artificial annotated knowledge will assist in coaching neural networks to determine semantic plant traits in image-based phenotyping duties. Our subsequent step is to extract phenotypic traits from the maize and canola datasets. Nevertheless, the usefulness of the calibrated fashions goes past annotations for coaching neural networks. The fashions present a quantitative estimate of the architectural parameters of those crops over time with out direct measurements (a really time-consuming course of). They’ll additionally present a foundation for development of extra complete fashions, incorporating purposeful elements of a plant’s improvement.”


Mikolaj Cieslak, Nazifa Khan, Pascal Ferraro, Raju Soolanayakanahally, Stephen J Robinson, Isobel Parkin, Ian McQuillan, Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz, L-system fashions for image-based phenomics: case research of maize and canola, in silico Vegetation, 2021;, diab039,


The fashions had been carried out utilizing the Digital Laboratory 4.5.1 plant modeling software program ( macOS Excessive Sierra v.10.13.6, and can be found on the Algorithmic Botany web site (



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