Active canopy sensing of winter wheat nitrogen status: An evaluation of two sensor systems

Qiang Cao, Yuxin Miao, Guohui Feng, Xiaowei Gao, Fei Li, Bin Liu, Shanchao Yue, Shanshan Cheng, Susan L. Ustin, R. Khosla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Crop canopy sensor based in-season site-specific nitrogen (N) management is a promising approach to precision N management. GreenSeeker sensor has previously been evaluated in North China Plain (NCP) for improving winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) N management. The Crop Circle ACS-470 is an active canopy sensor with three user-configurable wavebands. This study identified important vegetation indices that can be calculated from Crop Circle green, red edge and near infrared (NIR) wavebands for estimating winter wheat N status and evaluated their potential improvements over GreenSeeker normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and ratio vegetation index (RVI). Six field experiments involving different N rates and varieties were conducted in the Quzhou Experiment Station of the China Agricultural University from 2009 to 2012. The results indicated that best Crop Circle ACS-470 sensor vegetation indices could explain similar amounts of aboveground biomass variability in comparison with GreenSeeker sensor NDVI, but Crop Circle normalized difference red edge/green optimized soil adjusted vegetation index (NDRE/GOSAVI) and red edge chlorophyll index (CIRE) were more sensitive to aboveground biomass (having lower noise equivalent) than GreenSeeker NDVI before and after biomass reached about 5000kgha-1, respectively. The Crop Circle green difference vegetation index (GDVI) (R2=0.60) and chlorophyll index (CIG) (R2=0.89) explained 53% and 7-11% more variability in plant N concentration and uptake than GreenSeeker indices, respectively. The Crop Circle green re-normalized difference vegetation index (GRDVI) (R2=0.78) and modified green soil adjusted vegetation index (MGSAVI) (R2=0.77) performed consistently better than GreenSeeker NDVI (R2=0.47) and RVI (R2=0.44) for estimating N nutrition index (NNI). We conclude that the three band user configurable Crop Circle ACS-470 sensor can improve the estimation of winter wheat N status as compared with two fixed band GreenSeeker sensor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-67
Number of pages14
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Active crop sensor
  • Crop Circle
  • GreenSeeker
  • Nitrogen nutrition index
  • Nitrogen status
  • Precision nitrogen management


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