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A within-season approach for detecting early crop stage of corn and soybean using high temporal and spatial resolution imagery

March 19, 2020

Crop emergence is a critical stage for crop development and crop growth modeling. Mapping crop emergence using remote sensing data is challenging. Previous remote sensing phenology algorithms showed that crop stages could be detected around the V3-V4 (3 to 4 established leaves) vegetative stage. Traditional approaches have a strong assumption regarding the temporal evolution of plant growth and normally require a complete growth period of observations to define seasonal changes. Most approaches were not designed for the within-season mapping in the early growing season. In the current paper, we developed a new within-season emergence (WISE) approach to mapping crop green-up date using satellite observations during early growth stages. The approach was first optimized using high spatiotemporal resolution (10 m, 2 day revisit) imagery from the Vegetation and Environment monitoring New MicroSatellite (VENµS) research mission, and assessed using ground observations of early crop growth stages (emergence VE and one leaf V1 stages for corn, and emergence VE and unifoliolate VC stages for soybeans) collected over the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) experimental fields in Beltsville, MD during the 2019 growing season. Results show that early crop growth stages can be reliably detected at sub-field scale about two weeks after crop emergence. The remote sensing green-up dates were about 4-5 days after crop emergence on average. Coefficients of determination (R2) between green-up dates and the mid-point dates of the early growth stages were above 0.90. The mean absolute differences, standard deviations, and root mean square errors comparing to the early growth stage mid-point dates were within six days. The maximum differences were within ±10 days across all fields. The WISE approach was assessed using operational Sentinel-2 data (10 m, 5 day revisit) in BARC. The detected green-up dates from Sentinel-2 were found close to VENµS results. Some fields were not detected due to the lack of observations during emergence dates. For independent evaluation, the WISE approach was applied over an agricultural watershed on the Maryland Eastern Shore using both VENµS and the harmonized Landsat and Sentinel-2 (HLS) data (30 m, 3-4 day revisit). The green-up dates were compared with crop progress reports of crop emergence dates from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) at the state-level. The WISE -detected green-up dates at the regional scale are within VE stage ranges but slightly earlier than NASS crop progress reports at the state-level. The WISE approach uses remote sensing observations during the early crop growth stages and has potential for operational application within the season using Sentinel-2 and HLS data.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title A within-season approach for detecting early crop stage of corn and soybean using high temporal and spatial resolution imagery
DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2020.111752
Authors Feng Gao, Martha Anderson, Craig S. T. Daughtry, Arnon Karnieli, W. Dean Hively, William P. Kustas
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Remote Sensing of Environment
Index ID 70210163
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center