Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Is it possible to discern striga weed (Striga hermonthica) infestation levels in maize agro-ecological systems using in-situ spectroscopy?

Abstract

The invasion by Striga in most cereal crop fields in Africa has posed a significant threat to food security and has caused substantial socioeconomic losses. Hyperspectral remote sensing is an effective means to discriminate plant species, providing possibilities to track such weed invasions and improve precision agriculture. However, essential baseline information using remotely sensed data is missing, specifically for the Striga weed in Africa. In this study, we investigated the spectral uniqueness of Striga compared to other co-occurring maize crops and weeds. We used the in-situ FieldSpec® Handheld 2™ analytical spectral device (ASD), hyperspectral data and their respective narrow-band indices in the visible and near infrared (VNIR) region of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) and four machine learning discriminant algorithms (i.e. random forest: RF, linear discriminant analysis: LDA, gradient boosting: GB and support vector machines: SVM) to discriminate among different levels of Striga (Striga hermonthica) infestations in maize fields in western Kenya. We also tested the utility of Sentinel-2 waveband configurations to map and discriminate Striga infestation in heterogenous cereal crop fields. The in-situ hyperspectral reflectance data were resampled to the spectral waveband configurations of Sentinel-2 using published spectral response functions. We sampled and detected seven Striga infestation classes based on three flowering Striga classes (low, moderate and high) against two background endmembers (soil and a mixture of maize and other co-occurring weeds). A guided regularized random forest (GRRF) algorithm was used to select the most relevant hyperspectral wavebands and vegetation indices (VIs) as well as for the resampled Sentinel-2 multispectral wavebands for Striga infestation discrimination. The performance of the four discriminant algorithms was compared using classification accuracy assessment metrics. We were able to positively discriminate Striga from the two background endmembers i.e. soil and co-occurring vegetation (maize and co-occurring weeds) based on the few GRRF selected hyperspectral vegetation indices and the GRRF selected resampled Sentinel-2 multispectral bands. RF outperformed all the other discriminant methods and produced the highest overall accuracy of 91% and 85%, using the hyperspectral and resampled Sentinel-2 multispectral wavebands, respectively, across the four different discriminant models tested in this study. The class with the highest detection accuracy across all the four discriminant algorithms, was the "exclusively maize and other co-occurring weeds" (>70%). The GRRF reduced the dimensionality of the hyperspectral data and selected only 9 most relevant wavebands out of 750 wavebands, 6 VIs out of 15 and 6 out of 10 resampled Sentinel-2 multispectral wavebands for discriminating among the Striga and co-occurring classes. Resampled Sentinel-2 multispectral wavebands 3 (green) and 4 (red) were the most crucial for Striga detection. The use of the most relevant hyperspectral features (i.e. wavebands and VIs) significantly (p ≤ 0.05) increased the overall classification accuracy and Kappa scores (±5% and ±0.2, respectively) in all the machine learning discriminant models. Our results show the potential of hyperspectral, resampled Sentinel-2 multispectral datasets and machine learning discriminant algorithms as a tool to accurately discern Striga in heterogenous maize agro-ecological systems.