Plant temperature is an indicator of stomatal conductance, which reflects soil moisture stresses. We explored the relationship between plant temperature and soil moisture to optimize irrigation schedules in a water-stress experiment using Firmiana platanifolia
(L. f.) Marsili in an incubator. Canopy temperature, leaf temperature, and stomatal conductance were measured using thermal imaging and a porometer. The results indicated that (1) stomatal conductance decreased with declines in soil moisture, and reflected average canopy temperature; (2) the variation of the leaf temperature distribution was a reliable indicator of soil moisture stress, and the temperature distribution in severely water-stressed leaves exhibited greater spatial variation than that in the presence of sufficient irrigation; (3) thermal indices (Ig) and crop water stress index (CWSI) were theoretically proportional to stomatal conductance (gs), Ig was certified to have linearity relationship with gs and CWSI have a logarithmic relationship with gs, and both of the two indices can be used to estimate soil moisture; and (4) thermal imaging data can reflect water status irrespective of long-term water scarcity or lack of sudden rainfall. This study applied thermal imaging methods to monitor plants and develop adaptable irrigation scheduling, which are important for the formulation of effective and economical agriculture and forestry policy.
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