Precise management of nitrogen (N) using canopy color in aerial imagery of corn (Zea mays L.) has been proposed as a strategy on which to base the rate of N fertilizer. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between canopy color and yield response to N at the field scale. Six N response trials were conducted in 2000 and 2001 in fields with alluvial, claypan and deep loess soil types. Aerial images were taken with a 35-mm slide film from ≥1100 m at the mid- and late-vegetative corn growth stages and processed to extract green and red digital values. Color values of the control N (0 kg N ha−1) and sufficient N (280 kg N ha−1 applied at planting) treatments were used to calculate the relative ratio of unfertilized to fertilized and relative difference color values. Other N fertilizer treatments included side-dressed applications in increments of 56 kg N ha−1. The economic optimal N rate was weakly related (R 2 ≤ 0.34) or not related to the color indices at both growth stages. For many sites, delta yield (the increase in yield between control N and sufficient N treatments) was related to the color indices (R 2 ≤ 0.67) at the late vegetative growth stage; the best relationship was with green relative difference. The results indicate the potential for color indices from aerial photographs to be used for predicting delta yield from which a site-specific N rate could be determined.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 21, 2009
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