New Frontiers In Plant Science Article

Great Job Adrian on the first article of your PhD in the #1 Plant Science Journal -https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2017.02004/abstract

ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. 

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.02004

Comparative performance of ground versus aerially assessed RGB and multispectral indices for early-growth evaluation of maize performance under phosphorus fertilization

  • 1Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • 2CIMMYT Southern Africa Regional Office, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Zimbabwe

Low soil fertility is one of the factors most limiting agricultural production, with phosphorus deficiency being among the main factors, particularly in developing countries. To deal with such environmental constraints, remote sensing measurements can be used to rapidly assess crop performance and to phenotype a large number of plots in a rapid and cost-effective way. We evaluated the performance of a set of remote sensing indices derived from Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images and multispectral (visible and infrared) data as phenotypic traits and crop monitoring tools for early assessment of maize performance under phosphorus fertilization. Thus, a set of 26 maize hybrids grown under field conditions in Zimbabwe was assayed under contrasting phosphorus fertilization conditions. Remote sensing measurements were conducted in seedlings at two different levels: at the ground and from an aerial platform. Within a particular phosphorus level, some of the RGB indices strongly correlated with grain yield. In general, RGB indices assessed at both ground and aerial levels correlated in a comparable way with grain yield except for indices a* and u*, which correlated better when assessed at the aerial level than at ground level and Greener Area (GGA) which had the opposite correlation. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) evaluated at ground level with an active sensor also correlated better with grain yield than the NDVI derived from the multispectral camera mounted in the aerial platform. Other multispectral indices like the Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (SAVI) performed very similarly to NDVI assessed at the aerial level but overall, they correlated in a weaker manner with grain yield than the best RGB indices. This study clearly illustrates the advantage of RGB-derived indices over the more costly and time-consuming multispectral indices. Moreover, the indices best correlated with GY were in general those best correlated with leaf phosphorous content. However, these correlations were clearly weaker than against grain yield and only under low phosphorous conditions. This work reinforces the effectiveness of canopy remote sensing for plant phenotyping and crop management of maize under different phosphorus nutrient conditions and suggests that the RGB indices are the best option.

Keywords: Maize, remote sensing, UAV, RGB indices, Multispectral indices, Phosphorous fertilization

Received: 06 Sep 2017; Accepted: 10 Nov 2017.

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