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Leaf and canopy optical characteristics as crop-n-status indicators for field nitrogen management in corn

Rambo, L., Ma, B.L., Xiong, Y., da Silvia, P.R.F. (2010). Leaf and canopy optical characteristics as crop-n-status indicators for field nitrogen management in corn, 173(3), 434-443. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jpln.200900022

Abstract

The primary constraint of predicting the economic optimum nitrogen rate (EONR) for corn (Zea mays L.) is the high variability of soil nitrogen (N) supply due to environments, soil types, manure, and cropping histories. Portable instruments have been developed to measure leaf and canopy optical characteristics for determining plant N status. The objectives of this field study were to: (1) evaluate leaf and canopy optical properties including transmittance, reflectance, and fluorescence as indicators of corn N status with soil types, developmental stages, and N-applica-tion rates, (2) compare the efficiency of two commercial radiometers that are designed to measure canopy reflectance, and (3) assess the constraints of these crop-based indicators as a possible guide for real-time N sidedressing in corn. Field experiments with different levels of N, soil types, and corn hybrids were conducted at three sites in Ottawa, ON, Canada, in 2004 and 2005. Leaf chlorophyll concentrations (SPAD chlorophyll meter), chlorophyll fluorescence (OS-30), leaf area, and canopy reflectance (NDVI measured by CropScan and GreenSeeker radiometers) were simultaneously measured at several growth stages, while grain yield was determined at harvest. Our results show that canopy reflectance (NDVI) displayed similar efficiency as an indicator of N status on both soil types and corn hybrids in the two consecutive years. The chlorophyll readings often differentiated N-deficient from N-sufficient plots and therefore were a promising indicator for predicting corn N requirements. The fluorometer device evaluated in this study was unable to characterize corn N status. © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.

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