Automated identification of sugar beet diseases using smartphones
Cercospora leaf spot (CLS) poses a high economic risk to sugar beet production due to its potential to greatly reduce yield and quality. For successful integrated management of CLS, rapid and accurate identification of the disease is essential. Diagnosis on the basis of typical visual symptoms is often compromised by the inability to differentiate CLS symptoms from similar symptoms caused by other foliar pathogens of varying significance, or from abiotic stress. An automated detection and classification of CLS and other leaf diseases, enabling a reliable basis for decisions in disease control, would be an alternative to visual as well as molecular and serological methods. This paper presents an algorithm based on a RGB‐image database captured with smartphone cameras for the identification of sugar beet leaf diseases. This tool combines image acquisition and segmentation on the smartphone and advanced image data processing on a server, based on texture features using colour, intensity and gradient values. The diseases are classified using a support vector machine with radial basis function kernel. The algorithm is suitable for binary‐class and multi‐class classification approaches, i.e. the separation between diseased and non‐diseased, and the differentiation among leaf diseases and non‐infected tissue. The classification accuracy for the differentiation of CLS, ramularia leaf spot, phoma leaf spot, beet rust and bacterial blight was 82%, better than that of sugar beet experts classifying diseases from images. However, the technology has not been tested by practitioners. This tool can be adapted to other crops and their diseases and may contribute to improved decision‐making in integrated disease control.