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Mapping stressed wheat plants by soil aluminum efect using C‑band SAR images: implications for plant growth and grain quality

AuthorsHernández, Mercedes CSIC; Borges, Andrés A. CSIC ORCID ; Francisco‑Bethencourt, Desiderio
KeywordsAcid soils
field-scale research
variability pattern
total aluminum
Issue Date14-Mar-2022
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationPrecision Agriculture 23: 1072–1092 (2022)
AbstractUnder toxic aluminum (Al) levels in the soil, wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) sufers stress and plant growth is afected. A method for diagnosis of plants is proposed that includes the following as a strategy: to analyze total Al in the soil, employ satellite radar imagery and calculate a vegetation index. The objective of this research, conducted at the feld scale, was to explore how radar backscattering coefcients from a winter wheat canopy, combined with the normalized diference vegetation index (NDVI) and geographic information system (GIS) technology, can be used as a mapping tool for the variability of Al-stressed canopies. As a result, an analysis of covariance showed signifcant diferences, and the lowest plant height was obtained at a high level of soil Al, as well as the minimum grain weight and magnesium content. It was found that a simple model could be used to estimate plant height from the backscattering coefcient of vertical transmit-vertical receive polarization (σ°VV), with a strong correlation (r−0.84). In turn, a third-order polynomial regression model (R20.70) was proposed to estimate the NDVI from σ°VV. This model provided a good estimate of the NDVI at the stem elongation stage of growth (50 days after sowing). Detected NDVI patterns were associated with variation in canopy stress depending on polarimetric information, which, in turn, was related to soil Al levels. Thus, the maps derived from the model can monitor spatial variability, where NDVI values<0.68 indicate stressed areas. This study provides guidance for in-season stress spatial variability caused by Al.
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