Can We Use the Relationship Between Within-Field Elevation and NDVI as an Indicator of Drought-Stress?

  • Bernardo MaestriniEmail author
  • Matthijs Brouwer
  • Thomas Been
  • Lambertus A. P. Lotz
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 554)


Large farmers’ datasets can help shed light on agroecological processes if used in the context of hypothesis testing. Here we used an anonymized set of data from the geoplatform Akkerweb to better understand the correlation between within-field elevation and normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI, a proxy for biomass). The dataset included 3249 Dutch potato fields, for each of which the cultivar, the field polygon, the year of cultivation and the soil type (clay or sandy) was known. We hypothesize that under dry conditions such correlation is negative, meaning that the lowest portions of the field have more biomass because of water redistribution. From the data, we observed that in dry periods, such as the summer of 2018, the correlation was negative in sandy soils. Furthermore, we observed that early cultivars show a weaker correlation between NDVI and elevation than late cultivars, possibly because early cultivar escape part of the long dry summer spells. We conclude that the correlation between NDVI and elevation may be a useful indicator of drought stress, and deviations from the norm may be useful to evaluate the resistance to drought of individual cultivars.


Precision agriculture Potato Netherlands Within-field variability NDVI Drought Elevation DEM AHN2 Actueel hoogtebestand nederland 



The project was funded by the internal funds of WUR- Agrosystems Research. We are grateful to the Akkerweb Foundation for providing the anonymized dataset and to the two referees for their insightful comments.


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© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernardo Maestrini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthijs Brouwer
    • 1
  • Thomas Been
    • 1
  • Lambertus A. P. Lotz
    • 1
  1. 1.Wageningen University and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands

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