Machine learning driven non-invasive approach of water content estimation in living plant leaves using terahertz waves

Adnan Zahid , Hasan T Abbas, Aifeng Ren, Ahmed Zoha, Hadi Heidari, Syed Shah, Muhammad A. Imran , Akram Alomainy , Qammer H. Abbasi

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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The demand for effective use of water resources has increased because of ongoing global climate transformations in the agriculture science sector. Cost-effective and timely distributions of the appropriate amount of water are vital not only to maintain a healthy status of plants leaves but to drive the productivity of the crops and achieve economic benefits. In this regard, employing a terahertz (THz) technology can be more reliable and progressive technique due to its distinctive features. This paper presents a novel, and non-invasive machine learning (ML) driven approach using terahertz waves with a swissto12 material characterization kit (MCK) in the frequency range of 0.75 to 1.1 THz in real-life digital agriculture interventions, aiming to develop a feasible and viable technique for the precise estimation of water content (WC) in plants leaves for 4 days. For this purpose, using measurements observations data, multi-domain features are extracted from frequency, time, time–frequency domains to incorporate three different machine learning algorithms such as support vector machine (SVM), K-nearest neighbour (KNN) and decision-tree (D-Tree).

The results demonstrated SVM outperformed other classifiers using tenfold and leave-one-observations-out cross-validation for different days classification with an overall accuracy of 98.8%, 97.15%, and 96.82% for Coffee, pea shoot, and baby spinach leaves respectively. In addition, using SFS technique, coffee leaf showed a significant improvement of 15%, 11.9%, 6.5% in computational time for SVM, KNN and D-tree. For pea-shoot, 21.28%, 10.01%, and 8.53% of improvement was noticed in operating time for SVM, KNN and D-Tree classifiers, respectively. Lastly, baby spinach leaf exhibited a further improvement of 21.28% in SVM, 10.01% in KNN, and 8.53% in D-tree in overall operating time for classifiers. These improvements in classifiers produced significant advancements in classification accuracy, indicating a more precise quantification of WC in leaves.

Thus, the proposed method incorporating ML using terahertz waves can be beneficial for precise estimation of WC in leaves and can provide prolific recommendations and insights for growers to take proactive actions in relations to plants health monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Methods
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
(, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (
publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Water content
  • Plant leaves
  • Terahertz (THz)
  • Sensing
  • Agriculture
  • Classifcation,
  • Machine learning

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