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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Upscaling proximal sensor N-uptake predictions in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) with Sentinel-2 satellite data for use in a decision support system

Wolters, S.; Soderstrom, M.; Piikki, K.; Reese, H.; Stenberg, M.


Total nitrogen (N) content in aboveground biomass (N-uptake) in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) as measured in a national monitoring programme was scaled up to full spatial coverage using Sentinel-2 satellite data and implemented in a decision support system (DSS) for precision agriculture. Weekly field measurements of N-uptake had been carried out using a proximal canopy reflectance sensor (handheld Yara N-Sensor) during 2017 and 2018. Sentinel-2 satellite data from two processing levels (top-of-atmosphere reflectance, L1C, and bottom-of-atmosphere reflectance, L2A) were extracted and related to the proximal sensor data (n = 251). The utility of five vegetation indices for estimation of N-uptake was compared. A linear model based on the red-edge chlorophyll index (CI) provided the best N-uptake prediction (L1C data: r(2) = 0.74, mean absolute error; MAE = 14 kg ha(-1)) when models were applied on independent sites and dates. Use of L2A data, rather than L1C, did not improve the prediction models. The CI-based prediction model was applied on all fields in an area with intensive winter wheat production. Statistics on N-uptake at the end of the stem elongation growth stage were calculated for 4169 winter wheat fields > 5 ha. Within-field variation in predicted N-uptake was > 30 kg N ha(-1) in 62% of these fields. Predicted N-uptake was compared against N-uptake maps derived from tractor-borne Yara N-Sensor measurements in 13 fields (1.7-30 ha in size). The model based on satellite data generated similar information as the tractor-borne sensing data (r(2) = 0.81; MAE = 7 kg ha(-1)), and can therefore be valuable in a DSS for variable-rate N application.


Decision support system; L2A; Nitrogen fertilisation; Precision agriculture; Sentinel-2; Variable rate application

Published in

Precision Agriculture
2021, Volume: 22, number: 4, pages: 1263-1283 Publisher: SPRINGER