Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural Sciences

First Advisor

Watson, Dennis


Early detection of disease and insect infestation within crops and precise application of pesticides can help reduce potential production losses, reduce environmental risk, and reduce the cost of farming. The goal of this study was the advanced detection of early blight (Alternaria solani) in potato (Solanum tuberosum) plants using hyperspectral remote sensing data captured with a handheld spectroradiometer. Hyperspectral reflectance spectra were captured 10 times over five weeks from plants grown to the vegetative and tuber bulking growth stages. The spectra were analyzed using principal component analysis (PCA), spectral change (ratio) analysis, partial least squares (PLS), cluster analysis, and vegetative indices. PCA successfully distinguished more heavily diseased plants from healthy and minimally diseased plants using two principal components. Spectral change (ratio) analysis provided wavelengths (490-510, 640, 665-670, 690, 740-750, and 935 nm) most sensitive to early blight infection followed by ANOVA results indicating a highly significant difference (p < 0.0001) between disease rating group means. In the majority of the experiments, comparisons of diseased plants with healthy plants using Fisher’s LSD revealed more heavily diseased plants were significantly different from healthy plants. PLS analysis demonstrated the feasibility of detecting early blight infected plants, finding four optimal factors for raw spectra with the predictor variation explained ranging from 93.4% to 94.6% and the response variation explained ranging from 42.7% to 64.7%. Cluster analysis successfully distinguished healthy plants from all diseased plants except for the most mildly diseased plants, showing clustering analysis was an effective method for detection of early blight. Analysis of the reflectance spectra using the simple ratio (SR) and the normalized difference vegetative index (NDVI) was effective at differentiating all diseased plants from healthy plants, except for the most mildly diseased plants. Of the analysis methods attempted, cluster analysis and vegetative indices were the most promising. The results show the potential of hyperspectral remote sensing for the detection of early blight in potato plants.




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