Date of this Version



Deep learning, disease identification, generalization, image classification


Identifying corn diseases under field conditions is crucial for implementing effective disease management systems. Deep learning (DL)-based plant disease identification using deep neural networks (DNN) has been successfully implemented in recent years. Recent work suggests DL models trained on lab-acquired image data do not generalize to similar accuracy levels for identifying diseases in the field. Additionally, most studies have not evaluated the generalizability of DL models for identifying plant diseases from various datasets and diverse imaging conditions. This study evaluates how well DL models generalize across different datasets and environmental conditions for identifying plant diseases using five datasets consisting of foliar disease images in corn: namely PlantVillage, PlantDoc, Digipathos, northern leaf blight (NLB) dataset, and a custom acquired CD&S dataset. Multiple DL-based image classification models were trained and evaluated using different dataset combinations. Transfer learning was utilized using five different pre-trained DNN architectures: InceptionV3, ResNet50, VGG16, DesneNet169, and Xception, for conducting four different experiments. After training the models, images for distinct corn diseases from different datasets were used as testing data for evaluating the generalization ability of each DL model. It was observed that the DenseNet169 model performed the best. The highest generalization accuracy of 81.60% was observed when the DenseNet169 model was trained using red, green, blue, and alpha (RGBA) images from CD&S corn disease dataset with removed backgrounds. In addition, 77.50% to 80.33% accuracy was achieved for the PlantVillage dataset when combined with field-acquired images from either the PlantDoc or the CD&S dataset. The results suggest that background removal using RGBA images from CD&S dataset or augmentation of field and lab data improves the generalization performance of DL models and could be used for developing field-deployable disease management systems.


This is the published version of A. Ahmad, A. E. Gamal and D. Saraswat, "Toward Generalization of Deep Learning-Based Plant Disease Identification Under Controlled and Field Conditions," in IEEE Access, vol. 11, pp. 9042-9057, 2023, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2023.3240100.