Estimating mineral content of indigenous browse species using laboratory spectroscopy and sentinel-2 imagery

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Trees provide low-cost organic inputs, with the potential to improve livelihoods for rural communities. Understanding foliar nutrients of tree species is crucial for integration of trees into agroecosystems. The study explored nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and calcium (Ca) concentrations of nine browse species collected from the bushveld region of South Africa using wet analysis and laboratory spectroscopy in the region 400–2500 nm, along with partial least squares (PLS) regression. We further explore the relationship between canopy reflectance of Sentinel-2 image and foliar N, P, K & Ca. Laboratory spectroscopy was significant for N estimation, while satellite imagery also revealed useful information about the estimation of nitrogen at landscape level. Nitrogen was highly correlated with spectral reflectance (R 2 = 0.72, p < 0.05) for winter and (R 2 = 0.88, p < 0.05) for summer, whilst prediction of phosphorus potassium and calcium were considered not accurate enough to be of practical use. Modelling the relationship using Sentinel-2 data showed lower correlations for nitrogen (R 2 = 0.44, p < 0.05) and the other nutrients when compared to the dried samples. The findings indicate that there is potential to assess and monitor resource quality of indigenous trees using nitrogen as key indicator. This multi-level remote sensing approach has promise for providing rapid plant nutrient analyses at different scales.




Gama, M. J., Cho, M. A., Chirwa, P., & Masemola, C. (2019). Estimating mineral content of indigenous browse species using laboratory spectroscopy and sentinel-2 imagery. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 75, 141–150.

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