Compared to conventional laboratory testing methods, crop nitrogen estimation methods based on canopy spectral characteristics have advantages in terms of timeliness, cost, and practicality. A variety of rapid and non-destructive estimation methods based on the canopy spectrum have been developed on the scale of space, sky, and ground. In order to understand the differences in estimation accuracy and applicability of these methods, as well as for the convenience of users to select the suitable technology, models for estimation of nitrogen status of winter wheat were developed and compared for three methods: drone equipped with a multispectral camera, soil plant analysis development (SPAD) chlorophyll meter, and smartphone photography. Based on the correlations between observed nitrogen status in winter wheat and related vegetation indices, green normalized difference vegetation index (GNDVI) and visible atmospherically resistant index (VARI) were selected as the sensitive vegetation indices for the drone equipped with a multispectral camera and smartphone photography methods, respectively. The correlation coefficients between GNDVI, SPAD, and VARI were 0.92 ** and 0.89 **, and that between SPAD and VARI was 0.90 **, which indicated that three vegetation indices for these three estimation methods were significantly related to each other. The determination coefficients of the 0–90 cm soil nitrate nitrogen content estimation models for the drone equipped with a multispectral camera, SPAD, and smartphone photography methods were 0.63, 0.54, and 0.81, respectively. In the estimation accuracy evaluation, the method of smartphone photography had the smallest root mean square error (RMSE = 9.80 mg/kg). The accuracy of the smartphone photography method was slightly higher than the other two methods. Due to the limitations of these models, it was found that the crop nitrogen estimation methods based on canopy spectrum were not suitable for the crops under severe phosphate deficiency. In addition, in estimation of soil nitrate nitrogen content, there were saturation responses in the estimation indicators of the three methods. In order to introduce these three methods in the precise management of nitrogen fertilizer, it is necessary to further improve their estimation models.
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