The potential of UAV and very high-resolution satellite imagery for yellow and stem rust detection and phenotyping in Ethiopia
Very high (spatial and temporal) resolution satellite (VHRS) and high-resolution unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery provides the opportunity to develop new crop disease detection methods at early growth stages with utility for early warning systems. The capability of multispectral UAV, SkySat and Pleiades imagery as a high throughput phenotyping (HTP) and rapid disease detection tool for wheat rusts is assessed. In a randomized trial with and without fungicide control, six bread wheat varieties with differing rust resistance were monitored using UAV and VHRS. In total, 18 spectral features served as predictors for stem and yellow rust disease progression and associated yield loss. Several spectral features demonstrated strong predictive power for the detection of combined wheat rust diseases and the estimation of varieties’ response to disease stress and grain yield. Visible spectral (VIS) bands (Green, Red) were more useful at booting, shifting to VIS–NIR (near-infrared) vegetation indices (e.g., NDVI, RVI) at heading. The top-performing spectral features for disease progression and grain yield were the Red band and UAV-derived RVI and NDVI. Our findings provide valuable insight into the upscaling capability of multispectral sensors for disease detection, demonstrating the possibility of upscaling disease detection from plot to regional scales at early growth stages.