Nitrogen nutrition diagnosis for cotton under mulched drip irrigation using unmanned aerial vehicle multispectral images

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Remote sensing has been increasingly used for precision nitrogen management to assess the plant nitrogen status in a spatial and real-time manner. The nitrogen nutrition index (NNI) can quantitatively describe the nitrogen status of crops. Nevertheless, the NNI diagnosis for cotton with unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) multispectral images has not been evaluated yet. This study aimed to evaluate the performance of three machine learning models, i.e., support vector machine (SVM), back propagation neural network (BPNN), and extreme gradient boosting (XGB) for predicting canopy nitrogen weight and NNI of cotton over the whole growing season from UAV images. The results indicated that the models performed better when the top 15 vegetation indices were used as input variables based on their correlation ranking with nitrogen weight and NNI. The XGB model performed the best among the three models in predicting nitrogen weight. The prediction accuracy of nitrogen weight at the upper half-leaf level (R2=0.89, RMSE=0.68 g m–2, RE=14.62% for calibration and R2=0.83, RMSE=1.08 g m–2, RE=19.71% for validation) was much better than that at the all-leaf level (R2=0.73, RMSE=2.20 g m–2, RE=26.70% for calibration and R2=0.70, RMSE=2.48 g m–2, RE=31.49% for validation) and at the plant level (R2=0.66, RMSE=4.46 g m–2, RE=30.96% for calibration and R2=0.63, RMSE=3.69 g m–2, RE=24.81% for validation). Similarly, the XGB model (R2=0.65, RMSE=0.09, RE=8.59% for calibration and R2=0.63, RMSE=0.09, RE=8.87% for validation) also outperformed the SVM model (R2=0.62, RMSE=0.10, RE=7.92% for calibration and R2=0.60, RMSE=0.09, RE=8.03% for validation) and BPNN model (R2=0.64, RMSE=0.09, RE=9.24% for calibration and R2=0.62, RMSE=0.09, RE=8.38% for validation) in predicting NNI. The NNI predictive map generated from the optimal XGB model can intuitively diagnose the spatial distribution and dynamics of nitrogen nutrition in cotton fields, which can help farmers implement precise cotton nitrogen management in a timely and accurate manner.




PEI, S. zhao, ZENG, H. liang, DAI, Y. long, BAI, W. qiang, & FAN, J. liang. (2023). Nitrogen nutrition diagnosis for cotton under mulched drip irrigation using unmanned aerial vehicle multispectral images. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 22(8), 2536–2552.

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