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Center-Pivot-Mounted Sensing System for Monitoring Plant Height and Canopy Temperature  Open Access

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

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 61(3): 831-837. (doi: 10.13031/trans.12506) @2018
Authors:   Ruixiu Sui, Jonnie Baggard
Keywords:   Canopy temperature, Irrigation scheduling, Plant height, Sensors, Variable-rate irrigation.

Abstract. Easy-to-use data acquisition methods are required for variable-rate irrigation (VRI) decision support systems. Plant canopy temperature is related to plant water stress. Plant height is useful as an indicator of plant health conditions and can be used to estimate yield potential. Therefore, measurements of plant canopy temperature and plant height coupled with spatial information in the field can be used for determining VRI water application depths. A center-pivot-mounted wireless data acquisition (WDAQ) system was developed to collect plant canopy temperature and plant height data in the field. Each WDAQ unit consisted of a GPS receiver, programmable data logger, infrared temperature sensor, ultrasonic distance sensor, solar power supply, and wireless data transmitter/receiver. The system included two WDAQ units installed on a four-span center-pivot VRI system. One unit was mounted at the middle of the third span, and the other was mounted at the middle of the fourth span from the pivot. The infrared temperature sensors were used to detect the canopy temperature, while the ultrasonic distance sensors were used to measure plant height. The WDAQ system was designed to continuously and simultaneously measure plant canopy temperature and plant height and record the spatial coordinates at each measurement location as the center pivot moved around the field. Data collected were wirelessly transferred to a receiver for data processing. This WDAQ system has been tested and evaluated in the field for two years. Test results indicated that the WDAQ system was able to record approximately 3,200 measurements from each sensor in one pivot circle (360°). The measurement error of the ultrasonic distance sensor was 0.2 to 3 cm in a measurement range of 14 to 209 cm, and the sensor-measured plant heights were strongly correlated with manually tape-measured plant heights in soybean and cotton crops (r2 = 0.97). Combined with the spatial information, measurements of plant height and crop canopy temperature were used to generate plant height and crop canopy temperature maps. Spatial variabilities of plant height and canopy temperature across the field could be identified from the maps and used in irrigation research. The WDAQ system has great potential for automatic creation of VRI prescription maps and plant-based irrigation scheduling.

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