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Multi-Spectral Imaging from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Enables the Assessment of Seasonal Leaf Area Dynamics of Sorghum Breeding Lines

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Potgieter, A. B., George-Jaeggli, B., Chapman, S. C., Laws, K., Suárez Cadavid, L. A., Wixted, J., Watson, J., Eldridge, M., Jordan, D. R. and Hammer, G. L. (2017) Multi-Spectral Imaging from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Enables the Assessment of Seasonal Leaf Area Dynamics of Sorghum Breeding Lines. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8 (1532). ISSN 1664-462X


Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.01532

Publisher URL: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpls.2017.01532


Genetic improvement in sorghum breeding programs requires the assessment of adaptation traits in small-plot breeding trials across multiple environments. Many of these phenotypic assessments are made by manual measurement or visual scoring, both of which are time consuming and expensive. This limits trial size and the potential for genetic gain. In addition, these methods are typically restricted to point estimates of particular traits such as leaf senescence or flowering and do not capture the dynamic nature of crop growth. In water-limited environments in particular, information on leaf area development over time would provide valuable insight into water use and adaptation to water scarcity during specific phenological stages of crop development. Current methods to estimate plant leaf area index (LAI) involve destructive sampling and are not practical in breeding. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and proximal-sensing technologies open new opportunities to assess these traits multiple times in large small-plot trials. We analyzed vegetation-specific crop indices obtained from a narrowband multi-spectral camera on board a UAV platform flown over a small pilot trial with 30 plots (10 genotypes with 3 replicates). Due to variable emergence we were able to assess the utility of these vegetation indices to estimate canopy cover and LAI over a large range of plant densities. We found good correlations between the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) with plant number per plot, canopy cover and LAI both during the vegetative growth phase (pre-anthesis) and at maximum canopy cover shortly after anthesis. We also analyzed the utility of time-sequence data to assess the senescence pattern of sorghum genotypes known as fast (senescent) or slow senescing (stay-green) types. The Normalized Difference Red Edge (NDRE) index which estimates leaf chlorophyll content was most useful in characterizing the leaf area dynamics / senescence patterns of contrasting genotypes. These methods to monitor dynamics of green and senesced leaf area are suitable for out-scaling to enhance phenotyping of additional crop canopy characteristics and likely crop yield responses among genotypes across large fields and multiple dates.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Keywords:Crop cover,Mosaics,UAV,leaf area dynamics,Water use,Sorghum breeding AgTech
Subjects:Science > Botany > Genetics
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Farm machinery and farm engineering
Plant culture > Field crops > Sorghum
Live Archive:17 Jan 2018 00:58
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:44

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