Arsenic contamination is a serious problem in rice cultivated soils of many developing countries. Hence, it is critical to monitor and control arsenic uptake in rice plants to avoid adverse effects on human health. This study evaluated the feasibility of using reflectance spectroscopy to monitor arsenic in rice plants. Four arsenic levels were induced in hydroponically grown rice plants with application of 0, 5, 10 and 20 µmol·L−1
sodium arsenate. Reflectance spectra of upper fully expanded leaves were acquired over visible and infrared (NIR) wavelengths. Additionally, canopy reflectance for the four arsenic levels was simulated using SAIL (Scattering by Arbitrarily Inclined Leaves) model for various soil moisture conditions and leaf area indices (LAI). Further, sensitivity of various vegetative indices (VIs) to arsenic levels was assessed. Results suggest that plants accumulate high arsenic amounts causing plant stress and changes in reflectance characteristics. All leaf spectra based VIs related strongly with arsenic with coefficient of determination (r2
) greater than 0.6 while at canopy scale, background reflectance and LAI confounded with spectral signals of arsenic affecting the VIs’ performance. Among studied VIs, combined index, transformed chlorophyll absorption reflectance index (TCARI)/optimized soil adjusted vegetation index (OSAVI) exhibited higher sensitivity to arsenic levels and better resistance to soil backgrounds and LAI followed by red edge based VIs (modified chlorophyll absorption reflectance index (MCARI) and TCARI) suggesting that these VIs could prove to be valuable aids for monitoring arsenic in rice fields.
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