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A comparison of crop data measured by two commercial sensors for variable-rate nitrogen application

Tremblay, N., Wang, Z., Ma, B.L., Belec, C., Vigneault, P. (2009). A comparison of crop data measured by two commercial sensors for variable-rate nitrogen application, 10(2), 145-161.


Nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates applied spatially according to crop requirements can improve the efficiency of N use. The study compares the performance of two commercial sensors, the Yara N-Sensor/FieldScan (Yara International ASA, Germany) and the GreenSeeker (NTech Industries Inc., Ukiah, California, USA), for assessing the status of N in spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and corn (Zea mays L.). Four experiments were conducted at different locations in Quebec and Ontario, Canada. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was determined with the two sensors at specific growth stages. The NDVI values derived from Yara N-Sensor/FieldScan correlated with those from GreenSeeker, but only at the early growth stages, where the NDVI values varied from 0.2 to 0.6. Both sensors were capable of describing the N condition of the crop or variation in the stand, but each sensor had its own sensitivity characteristics. It follows that the algorithms developed with one sensor for variable-rate N application cannot be transferred directly to another sensor. The Yara N-Sensor/FieldScan views the crop at an oblique angle over the rows and detects more biomass per unit of soil surface compared to the GreenSeeker with its nadir (top-down) view of the crop. The Yara N-Sensor/FieldScan should be used before growth stage V5 for corn during the season if NDVI is used to derive crop N requirements. GreenSeeker performed well where NDVI values were >0.5. However, unlike GreenSeeker, the Yara N-Sensor/FieldScan can also record spectral information from wavebands other than red and near infrared, and more vegetation indices can be derived that might relate better to N status than NDVI. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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