PLoS One. 2022 Jul 22;17(7):e0271677. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0271677. eCollection 2022.
Soil disinfestation with steam was evaluated as an alternative to fumigation. Following soil disinfestation, plant health has traditionally been measured using plant size and yield. Plant health can be measured in a timely manner more efficiently, more easily and non-destructively using image analysis. We hypothesized that plant health could be quantified and treatments can be differentiated using an RGB (Red, Green, Blue) image analysis program, particularly by observing the greenness of plant leaves. However, plant size or the proportion of green area could be unreliable due to plant loss and camera’s position and angle. To this end, we decided to evaluate plant health by analyzing the RGB codes associated with the green color only, which detects the chlorophyll reflectance and nutrient status, noting that the degree of greenness within the green-leaf-area was not affected by the plant size. We identified five RGB codes that are commonly observed in the plant leaves and ordered them from dark green to light green. Among the five RGB codes, the relative percentage covered by the darkest green to the lightest green was significantly different between the steam and chloropicrin treatments and the control, and it was not significantly different between the steam and chloropicrin treatments. Furthermore, the result was correlated with the total yield, and the trend observed in the first year was replicated in the second year of this experiment. In this study, we demonstrate that the RGB image analysis can be used as an early marker of the treatment effect on the plant health and productivity.