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Applications of vegetative indices from remote sensing to agriculture: past and future

Hatfield Jerry L., Prueger John H., Sauer Thomas J., Dold Christian, O'Brien Peter, Wacha Kenneth
Inventions v.4 no.4 pp. 71
albedo (reflectance), artificial intelligence, canopy, crop production, ground cover plants, leaf area, leaf chlorophyll content, leaves, meteorological parameters, orchards, pasture management, pastures, phenology, photosynthesis, phytomass, precision agriculture, remote sensing, robots, topsoil, vegetation cover, vegetation index, vineyards, wavelengths
Remote sensing offers the capability of observing an object without being in contact with the object. Throughout the recent history of agriculture, researchers have observed that different wavelengths of light are reflected differently by plant leaves or canopies and that these differences could be used to determine plant biophysical characteristics, e.g., leaf chlorophyll, plant biomass, leaf area, phenological development, type of plant, photosynthetic activity, or amount of ground cover. These reflectance differences could also extend to the soil to determine topsoil properties. The objective of this review is to evaluate how past research can prepare us to utilize remote sensing more effectively in future applications. To estimate plant characteristics, combinations of wavebands may be placed into a vegetative index (VI), i.e., combinations of wavebands related to a specific biophysical characteristic. These VIs can express differences in plant response to their soil, meteorological, or management environment and could then be used to determine how the crop could be managed to enhance its productivity. In the past decade, there has been an expanded use of machine learning to determine how remote sensing can be used more effectively in decision-making. The application of artificial intelligence into the dynamics of agriculture will provide new opportunities for how we can utilize the information we have available more effectively. This can lead to linkages with robotic systems capable of being directed to specific areas of a field, an orchard, a pasture, or a vineyard to correct a problem. Our challenge will be to develop and evaluate these relationships so they will provide a benefit to our food security and environmental quality.