Precision Agriculture

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 233–248 | Cite as

Spectral and thermal sensing for nitrogen and water status in rainfed and irrigated wheat environments

  • G. J. Fitzgerald
  • D. Rodriguez
  • L. K. Christensen
  • R. Belford
  • V. O. Sadras
  • T. R. Clarke


Variable-rate technologies and site-specific crop nutrient management require real-time spatial information about the potential for response to in-season crop management interventions. Thermal and spectral properties of canopies can provide relevant information for non-destructive measurement of crop water and nitrogen stresses. In previous studies, foliage temperature was successfully estimated from canopy-scale (mixed foliage and soil) temperatures and the multispectral Canopy Chlorophyll Content Index (CCCI) was effective in measuring canopy-scale N status in rainfed wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) systems in Horsham, Victoria, Australia. In the present study, results showed that under irrigated wheat systems in Maricopa, Arizona, USA, the theoretical derivation of foliage temperature unmixing produced relationships similar to those in Horsham. Derivation of the CCCI led to an r 2 relationship with chlorophyll a of 0.53 after Zadoks stage 43. This was later than the relationship (r 2 = 0.68) developed for Horsham after Zadoks stage 33 but early enough to be used for potential mid-season N fertilizer recommendations. Additionally, ground-based hyperspectral data estimated plant N (g kg−1) in Horsham with an r 2 = 0.86 but was confounded by water supply and N interactions. By combining canopy thermal and spectral properties, varying water and N status can potentially be identified eventually permitting targeted N applications to those parts of a field where N can be used most efficiently by the crop.


Remote sensing Thermal sensing Crop stress index CCCI Chlorophyll Nitrogen Water stress Wheat 


Acknowledgments and Disclaimer

The research in Horsham was funded by the Victoria Government, Our Rural Landscape Initiative, Australia. We fully acknowledge Russel Argall and Hemantha Rohitha for their technical assistance at running the field experiment and handling soil and plant samples in Horsham. We would also like to thank the personnel at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory for their advice, hard work and dedication. Thanks also are extended to the reviewers who contributed to improving the manuscript. Mention of specific suppliers of hardware and software in this manuscript is for informative purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the United States Department of Agriculture.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. J. Fitzgerald
    • 1
  • D. Rodriguez
    • 2
  • L. K. Christensen
    • 3
  • R. Belford
    • 4
  • V. O. Sadras
    • 5
  • T. R. Clarke
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA-ARS, U.S. Water Conservation LaboratoryPhoenixUSA
  2. 2.Department of Primary Industries and FisheriesToowoombaAustralia
  3. 3.Nordic GenebankAlnarpSweden
  4. 4.Primary Industries Research, Grains Innovation ParkHorshamAustralia
  5. 5.SARDI, Waite Research PrecinctAdelaideAustralia

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