Plant disease detection using drones in precision agriculture

Ruben Chin, Cagatay Catal*, Ayalew Kassahun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Plant diseases affect the quality and quantity of agricultural products and have an impact on food safety. These effects result in a loss of income in the production sectors which are particularly critical for developing countries. Visual inspection by subject matter experts is time-consuming, expensive and not scalable for large farms. As such, the automation of plant disease detection is a feasible solution to prevent losses in yield. Nowadays, one of the most popular approaches for this automation is to use drones. Though there are several articles published on the use of drones for plant disease detection, a systematic overview of these studies is lacking. To address this problem, a systematic literature review (SLR) on the use of drones for plant disease detection was undertaken and 38 primary studies were selected to answer research questions related to disease types, drone categories, stakeholders, machine learning tasks, data, techniques to support decision-making, agricultural product types and challenges. It was shown that the most common disease is blight; fungus is the most important pathogen and grape and watermelon are the most studied crops. The most used drone type is the quadcopter and the most applied machine learning task is classification. Color-infrared (CIR) images are the most preferred data used and field images are the main focus. The machine learning algorithm applied most is convolutional neural network (CNN). In addition, the challenges to pave the way for further research were provided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1663-1682
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Issue number5
Early online date28 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


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