Estimating Maize Above-Ground Biomass Using 3D Point Clouds of Multi-Source Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Data at Multi-Spatial Scales

Abstract: Crop above-ground biomass (AGB) is a key parameter used for monitoring crop growth and predicting yield in precision agriculture. Estimating the crop AGB at a field scale through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is promising for agronomic application, but the robustness of the methods used for estimation needs to be balanced with practical application. In this study, three UAV remote sensing flight missions (using a multiSPEC-4C multispectral camera, a Micasense RedEdge-M multispectral camera, and an Alpha Series AL3-32 Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor onboard three different UAV platforms) were conducted above three long-term experimental plots with different tillage treatments in 2018. We investigated the performances of the multi-source UAV-based 3D point clouds at multi-spatial scales using the traditional multi-variable linear regression model (OLS), random forest (RF), backpropagation neural network (BP), and support vector machine (SVM) methods for accurate AGB estimation. Results showed that crop height (CH) was a robust proxy for AGB estimation, and that high spatial resolution in CH datasets helps to improve maize AGB estimation. Furthermore, the OLS, RF, BP, and SVM methods all maintained an acceptable accuracy for AGB estimation; however, the SVM and RF methods performed slightly more robustly. This study is expected to optimize UAV systems and algorithms for specific agronomic applications.

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Authors: Zhu, Wanxue & Sun, Zhigang & Peng, Jinbang & Huang, Yaohuan & Li, Jing & Zhang, Junqiang & Yang, Bin & Liao, Xiaohan

Associations: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research

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