Evaluating remote sensing technologies for improved yield forecasting and for the measurement of foliar nitrogen concentration in sugarcane

Andrew Robson, Muhammad Moshiur Rahman, Gregory Falzon, Niva Kiran Verma, Kasper Johansen, Nicole Robinson, Prakash Lakshmanan, Barry Salter, Danielle Skocaj

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


An analysis of time series Landsat imagery acquired over the Bundaberg region between 2010 and 2015 identified variations in annual crop vigour trends, as determined by greenness normalised difference vegetation index (GNDVI). On average, early to mid-April was identified as the crucial period where crops achieved their maximum vigour and as such indicated when single image captures should be acquired for future regional yield forecasting. Additionally, the regional crop GNDVI averaged from Landsat images between February to April, produced a higher coefficient of determination to final yield (R2 = 0.91) than the average crop GNDVI value from a single mid-season SPOT5 image capture (R2 = 0.52). This result indicates that the time series method may be more appropriate for future regional yield forecasting. For improved prediction accuracies at the individual crop level, a univariate model using only crop GNDVI values (SPOT5) and corresponding yield (t/ha) produced a higher prediction accuracy for the 2014 Bundaberg harvest than a multivariate model that included additional historic spectral and crop attribute data. For Condong, a multivariate model improved the prediction accuracy of individual crops harvested in 2014 by 41.8% for one-year-old cane (Y1), and 46.2% for two-year-old cane (Y2). For the non-invasive measure of foliar nitrogen (N%), the specific wavelengths 615 nm, 737 nm and 933 nm (Airborne hyperspectral), and 634 nm, 750 nm and 880 nm (ground based field spectroscopy) were found to be the most significant. These results were supported by satellite imagery (Worldview-2 and Worldview-3) acquired over three replicated field trials in Mackay (2014 and 2015) and Tully (2015), where the vegetation index (VI) REN2NDVIWV, a ratio of the rededge band (705-745 nm) and the Near-IR2 band (860-1040 nm), produced a higher correlation to nitrogen concentration (%) than NDVI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-942
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Sugar Journal
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • nitrogen
  • Remote sensing
  • Sugarcane
  • Yield forecasting


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