Deep learning-based phenological event modeling for classification of crops

Pattathal V. Arun, Arnon Karnieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Classification of crops using time-series vegetation index (VI) curves requires appropriate modeling of phenological events and their characteristics. The current study explores the use of capsules, a group of neurons having an activation vector, to learn the characteristic features of the phenological curves. In addition, joint optimization of denoising and classification is adopted to improve the generalizability of the approach and to make it resilient to noise. The proposed approach employs reconstruction loss as a regularizer for classification, whereas the crop-type label is used as prior information for denoising. The activity vector of the class capsule is applied to sample the latent space conditioned on the cell state of a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) that integrates the sequences of the phenological events. Learning of significant phenological characteristics is facilitated by adversarial variational encoding in conjunction with constraints to regulate latent representations and embed label information. The proposed architecture, called the variational capsule network (VCapsNet), significantly improves the classification and denoising results. The performance of VCapsNet can be attributed to the suitable modeling of phenological events and the resilience to outliers and noise. The maxpooling-based capsule implementation yields better results, particularly with limited training samples, compared to the conventional implementations. In addition to the confusion matrix-based accuracy measures, this study illustrates the use of interpretability-based evaluation measures. Moreover, the proposed approach is less sensitive to noise and yields good results, even at shallower depths, compared to the main existing approaches. The performance of VCapsNet in accurately classifying wheat and barley crops indicates that the approach addresses the issues in crop-type classification. The approach is generic and effectively models the crop-specific phenological features and events. The interpretability-based evaluation measures further indicate that the approach successfully identifies the crop transitions, in addition to the planting, heading, and harvesting dates. Due to its effectiveness in crop-type classification, the proposed approach is applicable to acreage estimation and other applications in different scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2477
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Classification
  • Deep learning
  • Denoising
  • Phenological curves
  • VENµS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Deep learning-based phenological event modeling for classification of crops'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this