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Precision Agriculture Application for Sustainable Nitrogen Management of Justicia brandegeana Using Optical Sensor Technology

Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33199, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(5), 98;
Received: 28 March 2019 / Revised: 27 April 2019 / Accepted: 29 April 2019 / Published: 4 May 2019
PDF [238 KB, uploaded 4 May 2019]


Over-fertilization is a common practice in ornamental nursery production. Oftentimes, visual analysis is used to determine plant nutrient levels, leading to less accurate estimates of fertilizer application. This study focused on exploring the suitability of two non-destructive sensors, Soil Plant Analysis Development (SPAD-502) and GreenSeekerTM, for measuring plant tissue nutrient uptake. Florikan Top-Dress fertilizer 12N-6P-8K was applied to Justicia brandegeana in various increments (0, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 g) to simulate plants with deficient to excessive nitrogen rates. Various parameters were recorded including Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and SPAD readings, soil leachate analysis (nitrates and phosphate), and total leaf carbon:nitrogen (C:N). The NDVI and SPAD readings were recorded biweekly for three months after the initial controlled release fertilizer (CRF) treatments. Leaf C:N was analyzed through dry combustion while nitrates and phosphate were determined from soil leachate. Results suggest that the smaller amount (20 g) of CRF is as effective in providing N to J. brandegeana as larger amounts (30, 40, 50 g). Implementation of this fertilizer regimen will result in reduced agricultural nutrient runoff and overall negative environmental impacts. Application of optical sensor technology using SPAD and GreenSeekerTM showed promising results in determining the fertilizer requirements of J. brandegeana. This method could serve as a guideline for nursery producers and landscape personnel as a fast and non-destructive tool for sustainable fertilizer management practices within the ornamental plant industry. View Full-Text
Keywords: specialty crop; fertilizer; runoff pollution; ornamental plant; SPAD; NDVI specialty crop; fertilizer; runoff pollution; ornamental plant; SPAD; NDVI

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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Freidenreich, A.; Barraza, G.; Jayachandran, K.; Khoddamzadeh, A.A. Precision Agriculture Application for Sustainable Nitrogen Management of Justicia brandegeana Using Optical Sensor Technology. Agriculture 2019, 9, 98.

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