LARS Tech Report Number
Most models of crop growth and yield require an estimate of canopy leaf area index or absorption of radiation; however, direct measurement of LAI or light absorption can be tedious and time consuming. The objective of this study was to develop relationships between photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) absorbed by corn (Zea mays L.) canopies and the spectral reflectance of the canopies. Absorption of PAR was measured near solar noon in corn canopies planted in a field experiment conducted at the Purdue University Agronomy Farm, West Lafayette, IN, on a Typic Argiaquol at densities of 50,000 and 100,000 plants/ha. Reflectance factor data were acquired with a Landsat MSS band radiometer. From planting to silking, the three spectrally predicted vegetation indices examined (ratio of red to near infrared reflectance, normalized difference, and greenness ) were associated with more than 95% of the variability in absorbed PAR. The relationships developed between absorbed PAR and the three indices were evaluated with reflectance factor data acquired from corn canopies planted in 1979 through 1982 that excluded those canopies from which the equations were developed. Treatments included in these data were two hybrids, four planting densities (25, 50, 75, and 100 thousand plants/ha), three soil types (Typic Argiaquol, Udollic Ochraqualf, and Aeric Ochraqualf) and several planting dates. Seasonal cumulations of measured LAI and each of the three indices were associated with greater than 50% of the variation in final grain yields from the test years. Seasonal cumulations of daily absorbed PAR were associated with up to 73% of the variation in final grain yields. Absorbed PAR, cumulated through the growing season, is a better indicator of yield than cumulated leaf area index. Absorbed PAR may be estimated reliably from spectral reflectance data of crop canopies.
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