Spectral data source effect on crop state estimation by vegetation indices

Maria Polinova, Thomas Jarmer, Anna Brook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spectral vegetation indices (VIs) are a well-known and widely used method for crop state estimation. The ability to monitor crop state by such indices is an important tool for agricultural management. Even though differences in imagery and point-based spectroscopy are obvious, their impact on crop state estimation by VIs is not well-studied. The aim of this study was to assess the performance level of the selected VIs calculated from spaceborne multispectral imagery and point-based field spectroscopy in application to crop state estimation. For this purpose, irrigated chickpea field was monitored by RapidEye satellite mission and additional measurements by field spectrometer were obtained. Estimated VIs average and coefficient of variation from each observation were compared with physical crop measurements: leaf water content, LAI and chlorophyll level. The results indicate that indices calculated from spaceborne spectral images regardless of the claimed response commonly react on phenology of the irrigated chickpea. This feature makes spaceborne spectral imagery an appropriate data source for monitoring crop development, crop water needs and yield prediction. VIs calculated from field spectrometer were sensitive for estimating pigment concentration and photosynthesis rate. Yet, a hypersensitivity of field spectral measures might lead to a very high variability (up to 69%) of the calculated values. Consequently, the high spatial variability of field spectral measurements depreciates the estimation agricultural field state by average mean only. Nevertheless, the spatial variability might have certain behavior trend, e.g., a significant increase in the active growth or stress and can be an independent feature for field state assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number752
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number22
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Agriculture management
  • Field spectroscopy
  • Spaceborne spectral imagery
  • Spatial variability
  • Vegetation indices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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