A simple spectral index using reflectance of 735 nm to assess nitrogen status of rice canopy

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Spatial distribution of canopy N status is the primary information needed for precision management of N fertilizer. This study demonstrated the feasibility of a simple spectral index (SI) using the first derivative of canopy reflectance spectrum at 735 nm (dR/d|735) to assess N concentration of rice (Oryza sativa L.) plants, and then validated the applicability of a simplified imaging system based on the derived spectral model from the dR/d|735 relationship in mapping canopy N status within field. Results showed that values of dR/d|735 were linearly related to plant N concentrations measured at the panicle formation stage. The leaf N accumulation per unit ground area was better fitted than other ratio-based SIs, such as simple ratio vegetation index (SRVI), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), R810/R560, and (R1100 – R660)/(R1100 + R660), and remained valid when pooling more data from different cropping seasons in varied years and locations. A simplified imaging system was assembled and mounted on a mobile lifter and a helicopter to take spectral imageries for mapping canopy N status within fields. Results indicated that the imaging system was able to provide field maps of canopy N status with reasonable accuracy (r = 0.465–0.912, root mean standard error [RMSE] = 0.100–0.550) from both remote sensing platforms.

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