Applying high-resolution visible-channel aerial imaging of crop canopy to precision irrigation management

Assaf Chen, Valerie Orlov-Levin, Moshe Meron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Canopy cover (or vegetation cover) maps serve in irrigation management mainly to determine the primary evapotranspiration (ET) coefficient, as radiation interception and evaporative surface area are directly related to canopy cover. Crop size and development with time depends on water supply; therefore, crop canopy maps are tools for the detection of the spatial uniformity of irrigation systems. Several aerial scan campaigns were deployed in the Upper Galilee of Israel in the 2017 and 2018 growing seasons to follow up and evaluate the irrigation uniformity and crop coefficients of peanuts and cotton by RGB scans of a Phantom 4 multirotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and DJI Mavic-Pro UAV equipped with RGB and near-infrared (NIR) sensors. Foliage intensity and coverage were enhanced by a green-red vegetation index (GRVI), which is a normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI)-like process where the green channel replaced the NIR. The results demonstrated that the GRVI is suitable for the purpose of determining the vegetation cover. Furthermore, the GRVI yielded better results than the NDVI in recognizing phenological crop changes (especially senescence) and in detecting heterogeneity in field irrigation. Therefore, this research proves the applicability of a low-cost digital camera mounted on an easily accessible UAV for crop cover and actual, in-field, ET coefficients determination and irrigation uniformity evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-205
Number of pages10
JournalAgricultural Water Management
StatePublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Canopy cover
  • Green-red vegetation index (GRVI)
  • Precision irrigation
  • Remote sensing
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
  • Vegetation fraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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