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Yield Mapping of High-Biomass Sorghum with Aerial Imagery

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008833.(doi:10.13031/2013.32712)
Authors:   Ruixiu Sui, Brandon E Hartley, John M Gibson, Chenghai Yang, J Alex Thomasson, Stephen W Searcy
Keywords:   Biomass logistics, remote sensing, sorghum, yield mapping, biofuels

To reach the goals laid out by the U.S. Government for displacing fossil fuels with biofuels, agricultural production of dedicated biomass crops is required. High-biomass sorghum is advantageous across wide regions because it requires less water per unit dry biomass and can produce very high biomass yields. However, in order to make biofuels economically competitive with fossil fuels it is essential to maximize production efficiency throughout the system. The goal of this study was to use remote sensing technologies to optimize the yield and harvest logistics of high-biomass sorghum with respect to production costs based on spatial variability within and among fields. Specific objectives were to compare yield to aerial multispectral imagery and develop predictive relationships. A 19.2-ha high-biomass sorghum field was selected as a study site, and aerial multispectral images were acquired with a four-camera imaging system on July 17, 2009. Sorghum plant samples were collected at predetermined geographic coordinates to determine biomass yield. Aerial images were processed to find relationships between image reflectance and yield of the biomass sorghum. Results showed that sorghum biomass yield in early August was closely related (R2=0.76) to spectral reflectance and could be estimated well (R2=0.71) even with a model involving only one band ratio of NIR to Red. The eventual outcome of this work could lead to predicted-yield maps based on remotely sensed images, which could be used in developing field management practices to optimize yield and harvest logistics.

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