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Open AccessArticle

Discriminating Irrigated and Rainfed Maize with Diurnal Fluorescence and Canopy Temperature Airborne Maps

Remote Sensing of Environmental Dynamics Laboratory, Department of Earth and Environmental Science (DISAT), University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 1, 20126 Milano, Italy
European Commission, DG-JRC, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Monitoring Agricultural Resources Unit-H04, 21027 Ispra, VA, Italy
Remote Sensing Department-IREA-National Research Council (CNR), Via Bassini 15, 20133 Milano, Italy
Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Vegetali Sostenibili, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Via Emilia Parmense 84, 29122 Piacenza, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Fei Yuan and Wolfgang Kainz
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2015, 4(2), 626-646;
Received: 11 December 2014 / Revised: 1 April 2015 / Accepted: 7 April 2015 / Published: 20 April 2015
This study evaluates the potential of airborne remote sensing images to detect water stress in maize. Visible and near infrared CASI (Itres Research Ltd., Calgary, AL, Canada) and thermal AHS-160 (Sensytech Inc., Beverly, MA, USA) data were acquired at three different times during the day on a maize field (Zea mays L.) grown with three different irrigation treatments. An intensive field campaign was also conducted concurrently with image acquisition to measure leaf ecophysiological parameters and the leaf area index. The analysis of the field data showed that maize plants were experiencing moderate to severe water stress in rainfed plots and a weaker stress condition in the plots with a water deficit imposed between stem elongation and flowering. Vegetation indices including the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and the photochemical reflectance index (PRI) computed from the CASI images, sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (F760) and canopy temperature (Tc) showed different performances in describing the water stress during the day. During the morning overpass, NDVI was the index with the highest discriminant power due to the sensitivity of NDVI to maize canopy structure, affected by the water irrigation treatment. As the day progressed, processes related to heat dissipation through plant transpiration became more and more important and at midday Tc showed the best performances. Furthermore, Tc retrieved from the midday image was the only index able to distinguish all the three classes of water status. Finally, during the afternoon, PRI and F760 showed the best performances. These results demonstrate the feasibility to detect water stress using thermal and optical airborne data, pointing out the importance of careful planning of the airborne surveys as a function of the specific aims of the study. View Full-Text
Keywords: diurnal; temperature; fluorescence; PRI; water stress; corn diurnal; temperature; fluorescence; PRI; water stress; corn
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Rossini, M.; Panigada, C.; Cilia, C.; Meroni, M.; Busetto, L.; Cogliati, S.; Amaducci, S.; Colombo, R. Discriminating Irrigated and Rainfed Maize with Diurnal Fluorescence and Canopy Temperature Airborne Maps. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2015, 4, 626-646.

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