Using spectral distance, spectral angle and plant abundance derived from hyperspectral imagery to characterize crop yield variation

Research paper by Chenghai Yang, James H. Everitt

Indexed on: 21 Oct '11Published on: 21 Oct '11Published in: Precision Agriculture


Vegetation indices (VIs) derived from remote sensing imagery are commonly used to quantify crop growth and yield variations. As hyperspectral imagery is becoming more available, the number of possible VIs that can be calculated is overwhelmingly large. The objectives of this study were to examine spectral distance, spectral angle and plant abundance (crop fractional cover estimated with spectral unmixing) derived from all the bands in hyperspectral imagery and compare them with eight widely used two-band and three-band VIs based on selected wavelengths for quantifying crop yield variability. Airborne 102-band hyperspectral images acquired at the peak development stage and yield monitor data collected from two grain sorghum fields were used. A total of 64 VI images were generated based on the eight VIs and selected wavelengths for each field in this study. Two spectral distance images, two spectral angle images and two abundance images were also created based on a pair of pure plant and soil reference spectra for each field. Correlation analysis with yield showed that the eight VIs with the selected wavelengths had r values of 0.73–0.79 for field 1 and 0.82–0.86 for field 2. Although all VIs provided similar correlations with yield, the modified soil-adjusted vegetation index (MSAVI) produced more consistent r values (0.77–0.79 for field 1 and 0.85–0.86 for field 2) among the selected bands. Spectral distance, spectral angle and plant abundance produced similar r values (0.76–0.78 for field 1 and 0.83–0.85 for field 2) to the best VIs. The results from this study suggest that either a VI (MSAVI) image based on one near-infrared band (800 or 825 nm) and one visible band (550 or 670 nm) or a plant abundance image based on a pair of pure plant and soil spectra can be used to estimate relative yield variation from a hyperspectral image.