Leaf nitrogen concentration (leaf N, %) is an essential component for understanding biogeochemical cycling. Leaf N is a good indicator of grass or forage quality, which is important for understanding the movements and feeding patterns of herbivores. Leaf N can be used as input for rangeland carrying capacity and stocking rate models. The estimation of leaf N has been successful using hyperspectral and commercial high spatial resolution satellite data such as WorldView-2 and RapidEye. Empirical methods have been used successfully to estimate leaf N, on the basis that it correlates with leaf chlorophyll. As such, leaf N was estimated using red edge based indices. The new Sentinel-2 sensor has two red edge bands, is freely available, and could further improve the estimation of leaf N at a regional scale. The objective of this study is to develop red edge based Sentinel-2 models derived from an analytical spectral device (ASD) spectrometer to map and monitor leaf N using Sentinel-2 images. Field work for leaf N and ASD data were collected in 2014 (December) in and around Kruger National Park, South Africa. ASD data were resampled to the Sentinel-2 spectral configuration using the spectral response function. The Sentinel-2 data for various dates were acquired from the European Space Agency (ESA) portal. The Sentinel-2 atmospheric correction (Sen2Cor) process was implemented. Simple empirical regression was used to estimate leaf N. High leaf N prediction accuracy was achieved at the ASD level and the best model was inverted on Sentinel-2 images to explain leaf N distribution at a regional scale over time. The spatial distribution of leaf N is influenced by the underlying geological substrate, fire frequency and other environmental variables. This study is a demonstration of how ASD data can be used to calibrate Sentinel-2 for leaf N estimation and mapping.
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