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Spatially weighted estimation of broadacre crop growth improves gap-filling of Landsat NDVI

Evans, F.H.ORCID: 0000-0002-7329-1289 and Shen, J. (2021) Spatially weighted estimation of broadacre crop growth improves gap-filling of Landsat NDVI. Remote Sensing, 13 (11). Article 2128.

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Seasonal climate is the main driver of crop growth and yield in broadacre grain cropping systems. With a 40-year record of 30 m resolution images and 16-day revisits, the Landsat satellite series is ideal for producing long-term records of remotely sensed phenology to build understanding of how climate affects crop growth. However, the time-series of Landsat images exhibits gaps caused by cloud cover, which is common in wet periods when crops reach maximum growth. We propose a novel spatial–temporal approach to gap-filling that avoids data fusion. Crop growth curve estimation is used to perform temporal smoothing and incorporation of spatial weights allows spatial smoothing. We tested our approach using Landsat NDVI data acquired for an 8000 ha study area in Western Australia using a train/test approach where 157 available Landsat-7 images between 2013 and 2019 were used to train the model, and 95 at least 80% cloud-free Landsat-8 images from the same period were used to test its performance. We found that compared to nonspatial estimation, use of spatial weights in growth curve estimation improved correlation between observed and predicted NDVI by 75%, MAE by 31% and RMSE by 75%. For cropland, the correlation is improved by 58%, the MAE by 36% and the RMSE by 76%. We conclude that spatially weighted estimation of crop growth curves can be used to fill spatial and temporal gaps in Landsat NDVI for the purpose of within-field monitoring. Our approach is also applicable to other data sources and vegetation indices.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Crop and Food Innovation
Food Futures Institute
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2021 by the authors
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