Detection of a potato disease (Early blight) using artificial intelligence

Hassan Afzaal, Aitazaz A. Farooque, Arnold W. Schumann, Nazar Hussain, Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill, Travis Esau, Farhat Abbas, Bishnu Acharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


This study evaluated the potential of using machine vision in combination with deep learning (DL) to identify the early blight disease in real-time for potato production systems. Four fields were selected to collect images (n = 5199) of healthy and diseased potato plants under variable lights and shadow effects. A database was constructed using DL to identify the disease infestation at different stages throughout the growing season. Three convolutional neural networks (CNNs), namely GoogleNet, VGGNet, and EfficientNet, were trained using the PyTorch framework. The disease images were classified into three classes (2-class, 4-class, and 6-class) for accurate disease identification at different growth stages. Results of 2-class CNNs for disease identification revealed the significantly better performance of EfficientNet and VGGNet when compared with the GoogleNet (FScore range: 0.84–0.98). Results of 4-Class CNNs indicated better performance of EfficientNet when compared with other CNNs (FScore range: 0.79–0.94). Results of 6-class CNNs showed similar results as 4-class, with EfficientNet performing the best. GoogleNet, VGGNet, and EfficientNet inference time values ranged from 6.8–8.3, 2.1–2.5, 5.95–6.53 frames per second, respectively, on a Dell Latitude 5580 using graphical processing unit (GPU) mode. Overall, the CNNs and DL frameworks used in this study accurately classified the early blight disease at different stages. Site-specific application of fungicides by accurately identifying the early blight infected plants has a strong potential to reduce agrochemicals use, improve the profitability of potato growers, and lower environmental risks (runoff of fungicides to water bodies).

Original languageEnglish
Article number411
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Deep learning
  • Disease classification
  • EfficientNet
  • Image processing
  • Machine vision
  • PyTorch
  • Smart sprayer


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