Improving in-season estimation of rice yield potential and responsiveness to topdressing nitrogen application with Crop Circle active crop canopy sensor

Qiang Cao, Yuxin Miao, Jianning Shen, Weifeng Yu, Fei Yuan, Shanshan Cheng, Shanyu Huang, Hongye Wang, Wen Yang, Fengyan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


In-season site-specific nitrogen (N) management is a promising strategy to improve crop N use efficiency and reduce risks of environmental contamination. To successfully implement such precision management strategies, it is important to accurately estimate yield potential without additional topdressing N application (YP0) as well as precisely assess the responsiveness to additional N application (RI) during the growing season. Previous research has mainly used normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) or ratio vegetation index (RVI) obtained from GreenSeeker active crop canopy sensor with two fixed bands in red and near-infrared (NIR) spectrums to estimate these two parameters. The development of three-band Crop Circle active sensor provides a potential to improve in-season estimation of YP0 and RI. The objectives of this study were twofold: (1) identify important vegetation indices obtained from Crop Circle ACS-470 sensor for estimating rice YP0 and RI; and (2) evaluate their potential improvements over GreenSeeker NDVI and RVI. Four site-years of field N rate experiments were conducted in 2012 and 2013 at the Jiansanjiang Experiment Station of China Agricultural University located in Northeast China. The GreenSeeker and Crop Circle ACS-470 active canopy sensor with green, red edge, and NIR bands were used to collect rice canopy reflectance data at different key growth stages. The results indicated that both the GreenSeeker (best R2 = 0.66 and 0.70, respectively) and Crop Circle (best R2 = 0.71 and 0.77, respectively) sensors worked well for estimating YP0 and RI at the stem elongation stage. At the booting stage, Crop Circle red edge optimized soil adjusted vegetation index (REOSAVI, R2 = 0.82) and green ratio vegetation index (R2 = 0.73) explained 26 and 22 % more variability in YP0 and RI, respectively, than GreenSeeker NDVI or RVI. At the heading stage, the GreenSeeker sensor indices became saturated and consequently could not be used for YP0 or RI estimation, while Crop Circle REOSAVI and normalized green index could still explain more than 70 % of YP0 and RI variability. It is concluded that both sensors performed similarly at the stem elongation stage, but significantly better results were obtained by the Crop Circle sensor at the booting and heading stages. Furthermore, the results revealed that Crop Circle green band-based vegetation indices performed well for RI estimation while the red edge-based vegetation indices were the best for estimating YP0 at later growth stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-154
Number of pages19
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was financially supported by National Basic Research Program (2015CB150405), the Natural Science Foundation of China (31071859), the Innovative Group Grant of Natural Science Foundation of China (31421092), the National Science and Technology Support Project (2012BAD04B01-06-03) and the CHN-2152, 14-0039 SINOGRAIN project. The kind assistance and supports provided by leaders and staffs at Jiansanjiang Institute of Agricultural Research and Jiansanjiang Branch Bureau of Agricultural Reclamation for this research are highly appreciated. We also would like to thank Rui Huang, Linlin Xin, Haibing Wu, Shanshan Hu, Junjun Lu and Xiaoyi Hu for their assistance in the field experiments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Active crop canopy sensor
  • Crop Circle sensor
  • GreenSeeker sensor
  • In-season nitrogen management
  • Precision nitrogen management
  • Response index


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