Using RapidEye imagery to identify within-field variability of crop growth and yield in Ontario, Canada
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Remote sensing has been recognized as a cost-effective way to detect the spatial and temporal variability of crop growth and productivity. In this study, multispectral RapidEye images were used to delineate homogeneous zones of soil and crop development in two fields in Ontario, Canada, one planted with canola (Brassica napus L.) and the other with spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). The two fields received different levels of nitrogen (N) treatments during the pre-planting land preparation phase. Soil textures, mineral nitrogen content and crop yield were used to interpret the results of zone delineation. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests revealed that the high-resolution RapidEye data, particularly the imagery acquired at peak crop growth stages (i.e. when leaf area index (LAI) is high), provided valuable information for delineating within-field variability of crop growth and yield. Further analysis showed that for both crops, the spatial patterns of crop growth condition varied throughout the growth cycle, revealing different impacts of soil properties and N fertilization on the crops. In particular, during peak growth stage, the within-field variability was most strongly affected by the pre-planting N application and had the strongest correlation with crop yield. These results suggest that high-resolution satellite data (e.g., RapidEye) could assist in making decisions on optimal N fertilization for enhanced crop productivity.
KeywordsRapidEye Homogeneous zone delineation Within-field variability Crop growth Crop yield Nitrogen
This study was funded by the AgriFlex project of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Project #2628), as well as the Canadian Space Agency through research projects on land productivity using Earth observation and crop modeling (Project #GRIP2013GENSX and #17SUSOARTO), and a Grant (Project #920161) provided to John M. Kovacs and Dan Walters from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation of Canada. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of many students from Nipissing University who helped in field data collection. Finally, the authors would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Ferme Roberge of the West Nipissing Agricultural District.
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