Mapping wheat nitrogen (N) uptake at 5 m spatial resolution could provide growers with new insights regarding nitrogen-use efficiency at the field scale. This study explored the use of spectral information from high resolution (5 × 5 m) RapidEye satellite data at peak leaf area index (LAI) to estimate end-of-season cumulative N uptake of wheat (Triticum spp.) in a heterogeneous, rainfed system. The primary objectives were to evaluate the usefulness of simple, widely used vegetation indices (VIs) from RapidEye as a tool to map crop N uptake over three growing seasons, farms and growing conditions, and to examine the usefulness of remotely sensed N uptake maps for precision agriculture applications. Data on harvested wheat N was collected at twelve plots over three seasons at four farms in the Palouse region of Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington. Seventeen commonly used spectral VIs were computed for images collected during ‘peak greenness’ (maximum LAI) to determine which VIs would be most appropriate for estimating wheat N uptake at harvest. The normalized difference red-edge index was the top performing VI, explaining 81 % of the variance in wheat N uptake with a regression slope of 1.06 and RMSE of 15.94 kg/ha. Model performance was strong across all farms over all three seasons regardless of crop variety, allowing the creation of high accuracy wheat N uptake maps. In conclusion, for this particular agro-ecosystem, mid-season VIs that incorporate the use of the NIR and red-edge bands are generally better predictors of end-of-season crop N uptake than VIs that do not include these bands, thereby further enabling their use in precision agriculture applications.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 10, 2016
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