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Sensors 2018, 18(9), 2931; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18092931

Evaluating RGB Imaging and Multispectral Active and Hyperspectral Passive Sensing for Assessing Early Plant Vigor in Winter Wheat

Chair of Plant Nutrition, Technical University of Munich, 85354 Freising, Germany
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Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 27 August 2018 / Accepted: 30 August 2018 / Published: 3 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Sensor Technologies for Crop Phenotyping Application)
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Abstract

Plant vigor is an important trait of field crops at early growth stages, influencing weed suppression, nutrient and water use efficiency and plant growth. High-throughput techniques for its evaluation are required and are promising for nutrient management in early growth stages and for detecting promising breeding material in plant phenotyping. However, spectral sensing for assessing early plant vigor in crops is limited by the strong soil background reflection. Digital imaging may provide a low-cost, easy-to-use alternative. Therefore, image segmentation for retrieving canopy cover was applied in a trial with three cultivars of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grown under two nitrogen regimes and in three sowing densities during four early plant growth stages (Zadok’s stages 14–32) in 2017. Imaging-based canopy cover was tested in correlation analysis for estimating dry weight, nitrogen uptake and nitrogen content. An active Greenseeker sensor and various established and newly developed vegetation indices and spectral unmixing from a passive hyperspectral spectrometer were used as alternative approaches and additionally tested for retrieving canopy cover. Before tillering (until Zadok’s stage 20), correlation coefficients for dry weight and nitrogen uptake with canopy cover strongly exceeded all other methods and remained on higher levels (R² > 0.60***) than from the Greenseeker measurements until tillering. From early tillering on, red edge based indices such as the NDRE and a newly extracted normalized difference index (736 nm; ~794 nm) were identified as best spectral methods for both traits whereas the Greenseeker and spectral unmixing correlated best with canopy cover. RGB-segmentation could be used as simple low-cost approach for very early growth stages until early tillering whereas the application of multispectral sensors should consider red edge bands for subsequent stages. View Full-Text
Keywords: early vigor; image segmentation; high-throughput; hyperspectral vegetation indices; contour map analysis; Greenseeker; nitrogen status; precision farming; phenomics early vigor; image segmentation; high-throughput; hyperspectral vegetation indices; contour map analysis; Greenseeker; nitrogen status; precision farming; phenomics
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Prey, L.; von Bloh, M.; Schmidhalter, U. Evaluating RGB Imaging and Multispectral Active and Hyperspectral Passive Sensing for Assessing Early Plant Vigor in Winter Wheat. Sensors 2018, 18, 2931.

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