Machine learning algorithms to predict forage nutritive value of in situ perennial ryegrass plants using hyperspectral canopy reflectance data Academic Article uri icon


  • Nutritive value (NV) of forage is too time consuming and expensive to measure routinely in targeted breeding programs. Non-destructive spectroscopy has the potential to quickly and cheaply measure NV but requires an intermediate modelling step to interpret the spectral data. A novel machine learning technique for forage analysis, Cubist, was used to analyse canopy spectra to predict seven NV parameters, including dry matter (DM), acid detergent fibre (ADF), ash, neutral detergent fibre (NDF), in vivo dry matter digestibility (IVDMD), water soluble carbohydrates (WSC), and crude protein (CP). Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) was used as the test crop. Independent validation of the developed models revealed prediction capabilities with R2 values and Lin’s concordance values reported between 0.49 and 0.82, and 0.68 and 0.89, respectively. Informative wavelengths for the creation of predictive models were identified for the seven NV parameters. These wavelengths included regions of the electromagnetic spectrum that are usually excluded due to high background variation, however, they contain important information and utilising them to obtain meaningful signals within the background variation is an advantage for accurate models. Non-destructive field spectroscopy along with the predictive models was deployed infield to measure NV of individual ryegrass plants. A significant reduction in labour was observed. The associated increase in speed and reduction of cost makes targeting NV in commercial breeding programs now feasible.

publication date

  • 2020