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Title: Influence of soil heterogeneity on soybean plant development and crop yield evaluated using time-series of UAV and ground-based geophysical imagery
Abstract Understanding the interactions among agricultural processes, soil, and plants is necessary for optimizing crop yield and productivity. This study focuses on developing effective monitoring and analysis methodologies that estimate key soil and plant properties. These methodologies include data acquisition and processing approaches that use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and surface geophysical techniques. In particular, we applied these approaches to a soybean farm in Arkansas to characterize the soil–plant coupled spatial and temporal heterogeneity, as well as to identify key environmental factors that influence plant growth and yield. UAV-based multitemporal acquisition of high-resolution RGB (red–green–blue) imagery and direct measurements were used to monitor plant height and photosynthetic activity. We present an algorithm that efficiently exploits the high-resolution UAV images to estimate plant spatial abundance and plant vigor throughout the growing season. Such plant characterization is extremely important for the identification of anomalous areas, providing easily interpretable information that can be used to guide near-real-time farming decisions. Additionally, high-resolution multitemporal surface geophysical measurements of apparent soil electrical conductivity were used to estimate the spatial heterogeneity of soil texture. By integrating the multiscale multitype soil and plant datasets, we identified the spatiotemporal co-variance between soil properties and plant development and yield. Our novel approach for early season monitoring of plant spatial abundance identified areas of low productivity controlled by soil clay content, while temporal analysis of geophysical data showed the impact of soil moisture and irrigation practice (controlled by topography) on plant dynamics. Our study demonstrates the effective coupling of UAV data products with geophysical data to extract critical information for farm management.  more » « less
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Scientific Reports
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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