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The potential of Landsat NDVI sequences to explain wheat yield variation in fields in Western Australia

Shen, J. and Evans, F.H.ORCID: 0000-0002-7329-1289 (2021) The potential of Landsat NDVI sequences to explain wheat yield variation in fields in Western Australia. Remote Sensing, 13 (11). Article 2202.

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Long-term maps of within-field crop yield can help farmers understand how yield varies in time and space and optimise crop management. This study investigates the use of Landsat NDVI sequences for estimating wheat yields in fields in Western Australia (WA). By fitting statistical crop growth curves, identifying the timing and intensity of phenological events, the best single integrated NDVI metric in any year was used to estimate yield. The hypotheses were that: (1) yield estimation could be improved by incorporating additional information about sowing date or break of season in statistical curve fitting for phenology detection; (2) the integrated NDVI metrics derived from phenology detection can estimate yield with greater accuracy than the observed NDVI values at one or two time points only. We tested the hypotheses using one field (~235 ha) in the WA grain belt for training and another field (~143 ha) for testing. Integrated NDVI metrics were obtained using: (1) traditional curve fitting (SPD); (2) curve fitting that incorporates sowing date information (+SD); and (3) curve fitting that incorporates rainfall-based break of season information (+BOS). Yield estimation accuracy using integrated NDVI metrics was further compared to the results using a scalable crop yield mapper (SCYM) model. We found that: (1) relationships between integrated NDVI metrics using the three curve fitting models and yield varied from year to year; (2) overall, +SD marginally improved yield estimation (r = 0.81, RMSE = 0.56 tonnes/ha compared to r = 0.80, RMSE = 0.61 tonnes/ha using SPD), but +BOS did not show obvious improvement (r = 0.80, RMSE = 0.60 tonnes/ha); (3) use of integrated NDVI metrics was more accurate than SCYM (r = 0.70, RMSE = 0.62 tonnes/ha) on average and had higher spatial and yearly consistency with actual yield than using SCYM model. We conclude that sequences of Landsat NDVI have the potential for estimation of wheat yield variation in fields in WA but they need to be combined with additional sources of data to distinguish different relationships between integrated NDVI metrics and yield in different years and locations.

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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