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Department of Applied Computing


Efficient and accurate methods to monitor crop physiological responses help growers better understand crop physiology and improve crop productivity. In recent years, developments in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and sensor technology have enabled image acquisition at very-high spectral, spatial, and temporal resolutions. However, potential applications and limitations of very-high-resolution (VHR) hyperspectral and thermal UAV imaging for characterization of plant diurnal physiology remain largely unknown, due to issues related to shadow and canopy heterogeneity. In this study, we propose a canopy zone-weighting (CZW) method to leverage the potential of VHR (≤9 cm) hyperspectral and thermal UAV imageries in estimating physiological indicators, such as stomatal conductance (Gs) and steady-state fluorescence (Fs). Diurnal flights and concurrent in-situ measurements were conducted during grapevine growing seasons in 2017 and 2018 in a vineyard in Missouri, USA. We used neural net classifier and the Canny edge detection method to extract pure vine canopy from the hyperspectral and thermal images, respectively. Then, the vine canopy was segmented into three canopy zones (sunlit, nadir, and shaded) using K-means clustering based on the canopy shadow fraction and canopy temperature. Common reflectance-based spectral indices, sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF), and simplified canopy water stress index (siCWSI) were computed as image retrievals. Using the coefficient of determination (R2) established between the image retrievals from three canopy zones and the in-situ measurements as a weight factor, weighted image retrievals were calculated and their correlation with in-situ measurements was explored. The results showed that the most frequent and the highest correlations were found for Gs and Fs, with CZW-based Photochemical reflectance index (PRI), SIF, and siCWSI (PRICZW, SIFCZW, and siCWSICZW), respectively. When all flights combined for the given field campaign date, PRICZW, SIFCZW, and siCWSICZW significantly improved the relationship with Gs and Fs. The proposed approach takes full advantage of VHR hyperspectral and thermal UAV imageries, and suggests that the CZW method is simple yet effective in estimating Gs and Fs.

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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Remote Sensing

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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