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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(1), 39;

Airborne Thermal Imagery to Detect the Seasonal Evolution of Crop Water Status in Peach, Nectarine and Saturn Peach Orchards

Efficient Use of Water Program, Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA), Fruitcentre, Parc Cientific i Tecnològic Agroalimentari (PCiTAL), Lleida 25003, Spain
Center of Spatial Technologies (CSTARS), Department of Land, Air and Water Resources (LAWR), University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (IAS), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Alameda del Obispo, s/n, Córdoba 14004, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Mutlu Ozdogan, Yoshio Inoue and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 7 October 2015 / Revised: 8 December 2015 / Accepted: 29 December 2015 / Published: 5 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Precision Agriculture)
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In the current scenario of worldwide limited water supplies, conserving water is a major concern in agricultural areas. Characterizing within-orchard spatial heterogeneity in water requirements would assist in improving irrigation water use efficiency and conserve water. The crop water stress index (CWSI) has been successfully used as a crop water status indicator in several fruit tree species. In this study, the CWSI was developed in three Prunus persica L. cultivars at different phenological stages of the 2012 to 2014 growing seasons, using canopy temperature measurements of well-watered trees. The CWSI was then remotely estimated using high-resolution thermal imagery acquired from an airborne platform and related to leaf water potential (ѰL) throughout the season. The feasibility of mapping within-orchard spatial variability of ѰL from thermal imagery was also explored. Results indicated that CWSI can be calculated using a common non-water-stressed baseline (NWSB), upper and lower limits for the entire growing season and for the three studied cultivars. Nevertheless, a phenological effect was detected in the CWSI vs. ѰL relationships. For a specific given CWSI value, ѰL was more negative as the crop developed. This different seasonal response followed the same trend for the three studied cultivars. The approach presented in this study demonstrated that CWSI is a feasible method to assess the spatial variability of tree water status in heterogeneous orchards, and to derive ѰL maps throughout a complete growing season. A sensitivity analysis of varying pixel size showed that a pixel size of 0.8 m or less was needed for precise ѰL mapping of peach and nectarine orchards with a tree crown area between 3.0 to 5.0 m2. View Full-Text
Keywords: remote sensing; peach; temperature; water status; leaf water potential; CWSI remote sensing; peach; temperature; water status; leaf water potential; CWSI

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Bellvert, J.; Marsal, J.; Girona, J.; Gonzalez-Dugo, V.; Fereres, E.; Ustin, S.L.; Zarco-Tejada, P.J. Airborne Thermal Imagery to Detect the Seasonal Evolution of Crop Water Status in Peach, Nectarine and Saturn Peach Orchards. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 39.

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