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NDVI to detect sugarcane aphid injury to grain sorghum

Elliott, N. C., Backoulou, G. F., Brewer, M. J., Giles, K. L.
Journal of economic entomology 2015 v.108 no.3 pp. 1452-1455
Melanaphis sacchari, Sorghum bicolor, aircraft, coasts, grain sorghum, insect pests, mature plants, multispectral imagery, pest monitoring, photosynthesis, plant damage, plant growth, plant stress, plant-insect relations, reflectance, remote sensing, vegetation index, wavelengths, Texas
Multispectral remote sensing has potential to provide quick and inexpensive information on sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari (Zehntner), pest status in sorghum fields. We describe a study conducted to determine if injury caused by sugarcane aphid to sorghum plants in fields of grain sorghum could be detected using multispectral remote sensing from a fixed wing aircraft. A study was conducted in commercial grain sorghum fields in the Texas Gulf Coast region in June 2014. Twenty-six commercial grain sorghum fields were selected and rated for the level of injury to sorghum plants in the field caused by sugarcane aphid. Plant growth stage ranged from 5.0 (watery ripe) to 7.0 (hard dough) among fields; and plant injury rating from sugarcane aphid ranged from 1.0 (little or no injury) to 4.0 (>40% of plants displaying injury) among fields. The normalized differenced vegetation index (NDVI) is calculated from light reflectance in the red and near-infrared wavelength bands in multispectral imagery and is a common index of plant stress. High NDVI indicates low levels of stress and low NDVI indicates high stress. NDVI ranged from -0.07 to 0.26 among fields. The correlation between NDVI and plant injury rating was negative and significant, as was the correlation between NDVI and plant growth stage. The negative correlation of NDVI with injury rating indicated that plant stress increased with increasing plant injury. Reduced NDVI with increasing plant growth probably resulted from reduced photosynthetic activity in more mature plants. The correlation between plant injury rating and plant growth stage was positive and significant indicating that plant injury from sugarcane aphid increased as plants matured. The partial correlation of NDVI with plant injury rating was negative and significant indicating that NDVI decreased with increasing plant injury after adjusting for its association with plant growth stage. We demonstrated that remotely sensed imagery acquired from grain sorghum fields using an airborne multi-spectral imaging system was sensitive to injury to sorghum plants caused by sugarcane aphid.