Characterization of peach tree crown by using high-resolution images from an unmanned aerial vehicle


In orchards, measuring crown characteristics is essential for monitoring the dynamics of tree growth and optimizing farm management. However, it lacks a rapid and reliable method of extracting the features of trees with an irregular crown shape such as trained peach trees. Here, we propose an efficient method of segmenting the individual trees and measuring the crown width and crown projection area (CPA) of peach trees with time-series information, based on gathered images. The images of peach trees were collected by unmanned aerial vehicles in an orchard in Okayama, Japan, and then the digital surface model was generated by using a Structure from Motion (SfM) and Multi-View Stereo (MVS) based software. After individual trees were identified through the use of an adaptive threshold and marker-controlled watershed segmentation in the digital surface model, the crown widths and CPA were calculated, and the accuracy was evaluated against manual delineation and field measurement, respectively. Taking manual delineation of 12 trees as reference, the root-mean-square errors of the proposed method were 0.08 m (R2 = 0.99) and 0.15 m (R2 = 0.93) for the two orthogonal crown widths, and 3.87 m2 for CPA (R2 = 0.89), while those taking field measurement of 44 trees as reference were 0.47 m (R2 = 0.91), 0.51 m (R2 = 0.74), and 4.96 m2 (R2 = 0.88). The change of growth rate of CPA showed that the peach trees grew faster from May to July than from July to September, with a wide variation in relative growth rates among trees. Not only can this method save labour by replacing field measurement, but also it can allow farmers to monitor the growth of orchard trees dynamically.

Horticulture Research
Bangyou Zheng
Bangyou Zheng
Data Scientist / Digital Agronomist

a research scientist of digital agriculture at the CSIRO.