Assessment of Spectral Reflectance as Part of a Variable-Rate Nitrogen Management Strategy for Corn
Lewis, Emily Kathryn
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Spectral reflectance-based, remote sensing technology has been used to adjust in-season nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates for wheat to account for spatial variability in grain yield potential at a sub-meter resolution. The objective of this study was to examine the relationships among spectral reflectance indices, corn tissue N content, chlorophyll measurements, plant size and spacing measurements, and grain yield to develop a similar strategy for variable-rate N management in corn. Irrigated and non-irrigated studies were conducted during the 2002 and 2003 growing seasons in eastern Virginia. Plots were treated with various rates of preplant, starter, and sidedress N fertilizer to establish a wide range of grain yield potential. Spectral measurements, tissue N, chlorophyll measurements, and plant physical measurements were collected at growth stages V6, V8, and V10. At maturity, grain yield was determined and correlated with in-season data and optimum N rate to calibrate in-season, variable-rate N fertilization strategies. Results from these studies indicate that spectral reflectance is well correlated with plant N uptake and chlorophyll meter readings and can also be correlated with final grain yield. These relationships may be used to develop a model to predict in-season, variable N application rates for corn production at a sub-meter resolution.
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