A valuable input to crop growth and yield models would be estimates of current crop condition. If multispectral reflectance indicates crop condition, then remote sensing may provide an additional tool for crop assessment. The effects of nitrogen fertilization on the spectral reflectance and agronomic characteristics of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) were determined through field experiments. Spectral reflectance was measured during the 1979 and 1980 growing seasons with a spectroradiometer. Agronomic data included total leaf N concentration, leaf chlorophyll concentration, stage of development, leaf area index (LAI), plant moisture, and fresh and dry phytomass. Nitrogen deficiency caused increased visible, reduced near infrared, and increased middle infrared reflectance. These changes were related to lower levels of chlorophyll and reduced leaf area in the N-deficient plots. Green LAI, an important descriptor of wheat canopies, could be reliably estimated with multispectral data. The potential of remote sensing in distinguishing stressed from healthy crops is demonstrated. Evidence suggests multispectral imagery may be useful for monitoring crop condition.
EARTH RESOURCES AND REMOTE SENSING